After a volunteer trip to Ghana last year, Camilla Gustafsson fell in love with the west African country. Now, she is dedicating her life to helping kids in the local village of Karimenga, northern Ghana, into getting the chances she thinks they deserve.
"Ghana is like a second home to me," she tells The Local.
"To be honest, it’s not so much the country, but the people that I fell in love with. Ghana has so much potential to grow and change, and I find myself living and working with heroes every day."
Indeed, the love affair prompted the Swede to create a whole charity - the Free Project - which has seen her go back once already, with another trip planned this month.
While there, Gustafsson is mainly focusing on helping the orphans. She has built houses, installed solar electricity, made the orphanage into a legal organization and provided smaller everyday needs such as food, healthcare, school uniforms and textbooks. On the second trip earlier this year, she built The Free Project Junior High School.
Now, she's raising money to do more of the same, this time planning to drill a borehole in the village for clean drinking water, and to launch a self-sustainable project so the locals can stand on their own two feet.
But the road to starting a charity organization has been paved with potholes for Gustafsson.
"Starting the organization as a twenty-two-year old with no education and no experience meant I was met with a lot of challenges," she says. "I had trouble being taken seriously, even. But with a lot of hard work, I've managed to prove to myself and everybody else that I am a serious business woman." It proves we are able to to more than we think if we just believe in our cause and work hard.
But why does a Stockholm woman care so much about people on the other side of the world?
"So many times people ask me why I care so much or why I do this. I like to turn the question around – how can you not care or do anything about it?" she explains.
"I've been there and seen how unfair life can be. Me, I don’t need expensive bags or fancy clothes if I know that the money could put a smile on somebody's face, give a child the possibility to go to school or give a village clean water. To me that is worth more than a million dollars."
Keen to donate? Check out The Free Project's official site here.