CHICAGO — She’s won a local pageant, created a cosmetic line and has supplied hundreds of shoes to children in Ghana. At just 12 years old, this 7th grader doesn’t see obstacles, only possibilities.
Chicagoan Kerry Koranteng is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
Christiana Arhen said when her daughter stated she wanted to send shoes to Ghana, she didn’t envision her living room to resemble a shoe store.
“It became like a shoe tornado when the second order came I was like ‘Ooh this is a hobby’,” Arhen said.
Arhen couldn’t be more proud. In 2017 after returning home from a trip to Ghana to visit family, Arhen said the then-8-year-old Kerry peppered her with questions.
“She was asking so many questions, why are these kids selling on the street? Why do they have no clothes on and walking barefoot? She was very passionate about it,” Arhen said.
The family visit to Ghana left an impact with the now 12-year-old Kerry. She said she couldn’t get the images out of her mind and wanted to help.
“I just hate to see kids just not being kids because you have to enjoy playing outside, playing with your friends, not to worry about your family finances,” Kerry said.
Last year, she decided to make shoe donations for Ghana her personal mission as well as her platform topic when she competes in local beauty pageants.
“I used to donate my own shoes, but that wasn’t enough,” Kerry said.
With the help of social media and a local charity millhouse, Kerry has been able to donate nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes to children in a remote Ghana village.
Kerry distributes them herself during her winter and summer breaks.
“They’re always smiling, saying thank you,” Kerry said.
Kerry added that she’s grateful for the donations she’s received, but said the cost of shipping the shoes overseas can be quite expensive. To cover the expenses, she’s started a GoFundMe page and a cosmetic line.
All of the proceeds go towards shipping costs. Kerry said seeing the reaction of the kids has made this somewhat gigantic effort worth it.
“I just feel joy when I see smiles on their faces,” Kerry said.
Kerry said she and her mom are preparing to head back to Ghana this month for another round of deliveries with a few things learned to make the process a bit smoother.
“Now I’ve learned I should always make them try on the shoe first before I let them take it, so it actually fits them,” Kerry said.