HUNTERSVILLE – Stephanie Ntim isn’t forgetting her birthplace.

While teenagers her age send Instagram selfies to friends and text for hours, Ntim, a junior at SouthLake Christian Academy, thinks and cares beyond her 17 years. She’s a girl with a mission, a real mission she’s created called, “Light Ghana with Learning.”

Originally from Ghana, she moved to the U.S. with her family when very young. But she has strong ties to her native country, a lot because of her grandmother who stayed in the small town of Pepease, Ghana.

Pepease has a population of about 1,000 and is located in the eastern region of West Africa. Townspeople earn their living farming or planating. In this small burg, Stephanie's grandmother, Florence Osei Ntim, stood as a motherly figure to the entire town. Her grandmother spearheaded many fundraisers for the community and sponsored children who could not go to school.

Stephanie's father always talked about how his parents sacrificed to have their children get ahead. Florence was able to see the fruits of their sacrifices with one son owning a construction company and Stephanie’s father becoming a cardiologist. 

In memory of this beloved woman, Ntim’s uncle put up money to construct a small private school for the poorer children in the village and named the school Florence Osei Ntim after his mother. She was buried on the school’s grounds with the town’s children singing songs at her funeral. Now Ntim works relentlessly to gather supplies and raise money for the students.

The middle school has about 200 students. Because the school has no lawn maintenance equipment, students pull tall weeds with hand tools in the mornings before classes. The school owns only one computer so a group of students have to gather around a desk to view it.

Ntim has gathered 360 classical literary books; four used computers as well as pencils and is still accepting supplies and money. The items will be shipped to Florence Osei Ntim School. But even though the school fundraising is finished, she isn’t slowing down. Ntim plans on talking to Chic-fil-A this summer as the restaurant is known for supporting education.

“The Third World has shaped my ideology and theology,” said Ntim, a member of the National Honor Society and the Beta Club at her school. “Teenagers just can’t be ignorant.” 

Her advisor, Laureen Nelson, said, “She’s extremely quiet but a fantastic student and a leader by example.”

Ntim keeps her plans open for the future but is considering following her father into the medical field. She sends a massive thank you to the community that has never heard of her little town but has been generous to it.

“We are to make disciples and to love our neighbors,” Ntim said. “What better way to do that than to help others in another country.”