Shelly Morse, left, and Richard Yinkah coauthored “Adanu: Helping That Helps” along with Karen Lynn Maher. (Courtesy photo)

Celebrating 15 years of ‘wise collaboration’

Coauthors of “Adanu: Helping That Helps” share the story of how they met and the spirit of the Ghanaian nonprofit.

The little yellow book isn’t just a compilation of stories. It is a testament of the last 15 years of Richard Yinkah’s life, a celebration of the blood, sweat and tears he has shed for his nonprofit Adanu.

Yinkah is the new author of “Adanu: Helping That Helps,” a book that captures the story and mission of his nonprofit.

Yinkah’s story begins in Ghana. It is his home, a country he describes as “rich in love, kindness and generosity.”

It was there he lost his parents, where worked hard to get through school and where he began his nonprofit Adanu. Founded in 1997, Adanu aims to improve the living standard of the Volta region of Ghana by creating better educational infrastructure, creating opportunities and equipping locals for community development. Adanu means wise collaboration. It is a name that aims to capture the Ghanaian spirit, as well as the nonprofit’s mission to create sustainable change as a community.

It wasn’t until 2008 when Yinkah’s paths crossed with Renton resident Shelly Morse, who eventually helped him co-author the book along with Karen Lynn Maher. Morse and her family went to Ghana on a volunteer trip and got to see firsthand Yinkah’s heart and Adanu’s work. What started as a week of volunteering turned into a lasting relationship.

“We met them in the jungles of Ghana and instantly connected to what they were doing and how they were doing what they were doing,” she said.

Morse and her family started off supporting the nonprofit financially, then eventually created a supporting nonprofit called Friends of Adanu. Morse and Yinkah partnered to take Adanu to the next step. She helped Adanu get a 501(c)3 status in the United States, which allowed Yinkah to expand his reach. Over the decade, Yinkah and Morse’s partnership has turned into a strong, familial bond.

“Being here with (the Morse) family, I get to have family moments. I’m 37, but now I get to enjoy things I didn’t get to when I was 10…. I don’t have to worry about the years that have gone by without a mom and a dad. They believe in me and what I do and they support me. It’s a blessing,” said a teary-eyed Yinkah.

Yinkah even dedicated the book to Morse and her family. “This book is dedicated to the Morse family for believing in our dreams and for their kindness and devotion. Their selflessness will always be remembered,” reads the dedication.

For Morse, the book wasn’t only a celebration of 15 years of community development. It was an opportunity to share a story that had to be heard.

“It felt like this story needed to be told,” she said. “Ghanaians needed to hear this so they too could think, ‘I could do this too.’ I hope this story is one of hope and inspiration to rise up. For here (in the United States), it is a story of how you can approach community development… and learn from a great example.”

For Yinkah, writing this book was an opportunity to pause and remember why he works tirelessly for Adanu.

“When you’re working and working, you lose track of how much you’ve done or how much you’ve achieved… you’re just going and going,” he said. “The book gave us a reflection. When I read the book again, I say, ‘We did this? This is how this works?’ It has become a reference guide for myself, to appreciate how much we’ve done with our own people in Ghana.”

The book launch party for “Adanu: Helping that Helps” is 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. The event is hosted by Friends of Adanu. For more information on the launch party, call 206-227-3043. Proceeds from the book sales will go to build three more schools in Ghana.

The book is available to purchase on Amazon or https://www.adanu.org/adanubook/.

For those interested in participating in a volunteer trip to Ghana, contact Morse at shelly@adanu.org.

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