Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I was always drawn to help the poor, moved with compassion.’


“I was born on the island of Grenada and came here when I was 16 or 17 years old, wanting to make a better life. My mom was already here, and my siblings eventually came. I was always drawn to help the poor, moved with compassion. Even as a 9-year-old, I would cook for a family who didn’t have food.

“That followed me here to the U.S. I work in communities where they lack resources. I’ve gone to Ghana, and I’ve dug several wells and started building a school there. When I went to some of the villages and saw the conditions, the filthy water they were drinking, I couldn’t walk away and do nothing. People were contracting diseases from drinking that water. I used my life savings to pay for wells before I started what’s now called Adu Djan Water around 2011.

“Adu-Djan is my married name. My husband is Ghanian, and we met here after I started going to Ghana. Abesim is a village in Ghana that has a school made from mud. The chief of the village said to me, ‘We have been praying for you to come for years.’ When I sat in the school, the kids told me they were afraid to come in because the thatched roof would allow snakes in. If it rained, it damages the building. I told them I would build a school. At the time, I didn’t have the money; I didn’t know where the money was going to come from. But I knew I wanted to provide the opportunity for them to get a safe education. That’s really been my driving force. I go to Ghana as often as I can. We’ve also provided school supplies, food. The lives of some of these kids are so hard. Whenever I get a call that says, ‘I have no food for the kids for this week,’ I have to somehow figure out a way to get the money. I can’t imagine going to school not having breakfast, not having lunch, maybe getting something for dinner.

“I’m planning a trip next year, and hopefully I can start drilling more wells because I have been getting so many requests. When I visited, there were song lyrics written, ‘There shall be showers of blessings.’ I was wondering, ‘How can anyone be hopeful?’ But they were. I wanted to be that beacon of hope for them, to see the gratitude on their faces. It touched me so deeply, so I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

I was born to be in service to others, whether it’s helping them realize their full potential, or providing food, water or school, or providing spiritual support.

“I work for United Way of Long Island, their YouthBuild program for young adults 16-24, teaching them some type of skill to make them employable.

“Some have high school degrees, some don’t, and they’re low income. I’m also a mentor for Moxxie Mentoring, a foundation that pairs young women with female mentors as they grow professionally. They’re in college, they have aspirations and different needs than people in Ghana. I was born to be in service to others, whether it’s helping them realize their full potential, or providing food, water or school, or providing spiritual support. Almost all the work I’ve done everywhere I’ve gone in the world, young people are drawn to me. I’m glad because I want to be able to make an impression on them so they understand they’re loved, they’re needed, they’re valued, there’s potential in them and they can be successful.

“I wrote a book, ‘Prayer That Really Works,’ in 2016 because I wanted to provide an answer for people who I felt were struggling with getting their prayer answered. I was inspired to write it as an answer to all the people who have asked me, ‘Why isn’t my prayer being answered?’ I wanted to provide something for them in those times of doubt, something they can read and be empowered to grow their faith. My faith in God is what enables me to do all that I do without getting tired, without feeling the effects; it’s really what grounds me.

“This could be draining spiritually, but I never look at the work as me doing it. I look at the work as God doing it through me. Until recently, I was an assistant minister at my church in the Bronx, but they moved to New Jersey. What I do now is I minister wherever I’m needed. I get a call from a church that is starting women’s ministry, asking me to come be a speaker. I travel a lot and I do ministry in a lot of countries – Haiti, Jamaica, India. Everything is kind of intertwined. If I go for ministry and someone says to me, ‘We need a well or we need food,’ I do all of that. I’m representing God to many people, but also showing them his love by providing them those physical things that they need, providing those things that we in the Western world take for granted.”

Interviewed by Rachel O’Brien – Morano