Our parents came to Canada in the late 1970’s from Accra, Ghana. They had three children and our mother, the late Victoria Sesheme Okine, owned a local African restaurant where she loved sharing her favourite dishes from back home. She was also a prominent member and supporter of our community. She believed in acting upon the well-known African proverb “It takes a village” and I founded the Sesheme Foundation in her honour – to continue to empower and support people – to help them connect, participate and contribute to our larger communities.
She believed that everyone deserved an opportunity to live a happy and safe life and that it was everyone’s responsibility to support one another if possible. It was very common to have people share a meal or stay in our home until they found work and/or found a place of their own – she was a constant source of strength and support. When she passed away so unexpectedly in 2001, we were overwhelmed by the number of people who came to the aid of our family. Many I had never met or heard of. They helped us through a terrible time and shared many stories of how my mom had made a difference in their lives. I can’t begin to share how much their support meant. We live in a rich and diverse city, yet we still experience barriers like poverty, hunger and isolation. Life is so busy that it is easy to turn a blind eye to what’s happening around us. But if we take just a few minutes to connect with our neighbours we strengthen our communities. And if we can help, in even some small way when we see other families in need, we can make a lasting impact. In listening to the stories others shared about my mother, I was inspired how so many small acts of kindness (to her) made such a lasting impact in others’ lives.
Her shared values continue to inspire the team at Sesheme, who I see everyday treating strangers like family to build community. We focus on family relationships, child and parental care, a self-sacrificing concern for others, sharing and hospitality. We support and engage families and individuals in opportunities to grow, to be healthy, to be of service to others in need and ensure the well-being of the whole community. We would love for you to be a part of our growing family.