Our Story

My name is Barbara Allison, and I am a co-founder of The GodFreds Foundation. Five years ago, I was a fifty-year-old stay-at-home mom who was living the American dream. With four grown children, a loving husband, and a beautiful home, I had an incredibly comfortable lifestyle in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. It had always been my desire to find a meaningful way to make a lasting difference in the world, but up until then my life had been focused on my family, and writing checks to one aid organization or another seemed the only way to make a difference for the time being; but it always seemed to feel empty and without any satisfaction.red. If there was ever a sign to me that I was in the right place, it was this. Fred was brought into our lives, and we were able to invest in his future by giving him the gift of education. Now Fred was in turn doing the same for a young boy who shared his name and more.

A few years later, after becoming involved with a program called Semester at Sea, I had an opportunity to really leave my comfort zone behind and sail around the world with 650 college students, faculty and Lifelong Learners, like myself, who longed to experience the world, it’s cultures and it’s people in a real and meaningful way. Leaving my family for so long was very out of character for me, but both my husband and I felt strongly that this opportunity would lead me to whatever it was I had been longing and searching for in my life.

Shortly before leaving on my journey I connected with a young man from Ghana named Fred who had started his own tour company a few years before and took groups of Semester at Sea students on a homestay to the remote and impoverished village of Senase where he had grown up. The reviews of Fred’s homestay program from other students on Facebook were so impressive and powerful that I just knew I needed to do this. One of the things that caught my attention was that Fred used a portion of the fees from our tour to give back in some way to the villages we visited.

It was during one of our conversations that I expressed to Fred my desire to find a way of making a real difference in this world, and I asked if he had any ideas for me. At first he mentioned a non-profit that had been formed a few years prior by a group of SAS students as a place to start, and then said if I would rather have more of a personal connection, that he had a bright young student who could use a sponsor to help with school fees and uniform costs. That sounded perfect to me, and we agreed that we would talk about the details when I arrived in Ghana in April.

After two and a half long months of waiting to meet Fred, the day finally came. Fred turned out to be everything I had imagined and so much more. The connection we had built seemed as if it was meant to be and part of a much larger plan. The homestay in Senase turned out to be the hardest, most eye-opening and meaningful three days of my entire four-month voyage. During our tour we visited many schools, where we shared the few school supplies we had brought with us, and tried to spread encouragement and hope to the students. Experiencing life in the village where Fred grew up made the fact that he had already accomplished so much by the age of 22 so extraordinary and unlikely. Most of the children from Senase grow up to farm as their parents do, creating a cycle of poverty that is hard to break free from. Fred had a spirit and determination about him, which somehow allowed him to succeed and even excel in school, and eventually led him to winning a full scholarship to study at a University in Turkey.

After leaving Ghana, Fred and I continued to chat frequently, feeling as if our journey together was only just beginning. One day, after learning that Fred had been recruited by Hult International Business School in London, I told him, “Don’t give up on your dreams! Apply, and if you are accepted my husband and I will pay for you to attend University.” I did not want him to let an opportunity like this pass him by. I had never met such a motivated, bright, hard-working young man with the desire and potential to bring REAL CHANGE to the lives of so many. Fred had a dream and a vision that I shared, but he had lived the life that so many of these young children are living, and had found his hope and opportunity through education. This was the moment it all came together for me. Our children in the U.S. have so many opportunities for education, but in Ghana that is the exception. There were so many deserving young people that just didn’t have the means, and so their futures were determined not by their intelligence or their potential, but by their circumstance. It seemed unfair and my heart ached for these young people to have a chance of breaking out of the cycle of poverty and changing the path of their lives, and in a sense, affecting the lives of their families and communities as well.

Fred was accepted to Hult International Business School for Fall 2013 and granted a 50% scholarship! In all of our excitement and preparations for his move to London, I completely forgot to ask Fred about the young student we had talked about sponsoring so many months ago. Feeling guilty and somewhat ashamed for forgetting, I finally worked up the nerve to ask Fred about him. I will never forget his answer, “Don’t worry, I am taking care of him.” Fred told me this young boy reminded him so much of himself, that he had seen to it that he got into a better school and was paying for his school fees and uniform from his tour fees. If this didn’t make a big enough impression on me, when he told me the boys name I was speechless. His name was Godfred. If there was ever a sign to me that I was in the right place, it was this. Fred was brought into our lives, and we were able to invest in his future by giving him the gift of education. Now Fred was in turn doing the same for a young boy who shared his name and more.

Here is my message for all of you who share the dream of equal opportunity and a better world for all of humanity. It starts with one person. How many Freds and GodFreds are there in this world that just need an opportunity? Each time one young person is given the chance to become educated, hope is alive and will spread to another, and another, and another. The mission of the GodFreds Foundation is to provide excellent educational opportunities for those children who have the abilities, the talents and the determination to succeed, but lack an environment that is conducive to learning and achievement. By providing an environment where they not only have access to a quality education, but also an environment that builds character and good citizenship, one at a time we will bring hope and the promise of a bright future to the stars of tomorrow.

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