In 2010 Laura and Mark Belk traveled to Ghana to adopt their youngest daughter, the first girl with Down Syndrome to be adopted from the country. The persecution experienced by their own daughter because of her disability, and the poverty and desperate need they saw in the lives of the other children weighed heavily on their hearts. Together they decided that they wanted to do something to help these children. Because of their experiences following the birth of their third child, a son with Down Syndrome, Mark and Laura knew how much every child's life mattered, and they felt strongly that education would be the key to breaking the poverty cycle, and dispelling prejudice towards children with disabilities.
From the beginning, Nurturing Nations has been a small charity doing big things. We are run exclusively by volunteers, and because of this we can promise that every donation goes to its intended purpose. In 2014 we obtained 501(c)(3) status, making donations tax deductible in the United States. We are also recognized by the Department of Social Welfare in Ghana as an approved N.G.O.
Our mission is to empower children through education, dispel prejudices against people with disabilities, and protect and provide for those in need.
At times the world can feel like a dark place, filled with war, poverty, prejudice, corruption, and despair. But there is also great beauty and love when someone selflessly reaches out to help another and touch their lives for good. Nurturing Nations is our way of spreading this power for good across miles, over mountains, and across oceans to lift the burdens of our fellow human beings and make our future bright.
Laura Belk, President and Founder
Laura is Nurturing Nations founder and president. She provides the primary guidance and direction for all of Nurturing Nations activities, manages the organization’s day-to-day operations, and coordinates outreach and fundraising. She served on the Utah Governors counsel for People with Disabilities. She and her husband have nine children, four of whom are adopted from three different countries (Korea, China, and Ghana). Four of their children have special needs and six children are still at home. Laura is a full-time Mom and she loves learning with her family and working through the challenges of everyday life. It is through the experiences of adoption, caring for children with special needs, and being a mother that she developed a passion for advocating for individuals with special needs, those in poverty, and vulnerable children. Her experiences in Ghana as part of the adoption of her youngest child provided the motivation and the direction for the founding of Nurturing Nations. In addition to coordinating and overseeing all aspects of Nurturing Nations, she regularly delivers presentations about the value of every human life and the need to serve beyond ourselves.
Mark Belk, Vice President
Mark C. Belk is a professor of Biology at Brigham Young University and father of nine. He enjoys taking in the beauties of the natural world, hunting, fishing, and reading. Along with his wife, he founded Nurturing Nations and currently serves as Vice President. Mark assists in coordinating and overseeing all aspects of Nurturing Nations. Just as tiny, seemingly insignificant cryptobenthic fishes can impact the health of a massive coral reef, Mark believes that the tiny acts of kindness we do have the power to ripple outward and impact generations. As an educator himself, he sees the power of education in changing lives for the better and opening up worlds of opportunity.
Percy Amoah Gogoe, Ghana Director
Percy Amoah Gogoe is the Nurturing Nations Ghana Director. He is a strong advocate for child welfare in Ghana. Percy grew up in poverty and he understands firsthand the struggle and hardship experienced by many to survive and find opportunities for education. In consequence of these difficult experiences while growing up he developed a passion for helping vulnerable and less-privileged children. Through hard work and persistence Percy graduated from the University of Ghana, Legon. For the past sixteen years he has worked with non-governmental agencies to help many children with special needs, orphans, vulnerable and exploited children, victims of child slavery, unwed teenage mothers, and individuals in poverty. Percy is happily married, and he and his wife Miriam have five beautiful children.