LDS Church News

Mormon teen an advocate for exploited and at-risk children in her native Ghana

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 11:00 a.m. MST

Lillian’s foundation would use the money collected at the benefit dance to help several young people in Ghana receive medical care, counseling, improved nutrition and money for school.

She followed up that first dance with a second benefit dance last summer. She has also spoken in front of several community groups, educating folks about the realities of slavery and human trafficking in West Africa.

She returned to Ghana last summer to monitor developments in her foundation and to check up on the beneficiaries of her efforts.

“So far, we have been able to rescue 11 victims of modern-day slavery and help them get into boarding schools and supply them with food and clothing,” she said.

Fahodie for Friends has ambitious, long-term goals in Ghana. The foundation hopes to raise enough money to one day build a medical clinic and a safe house for children in need.

A Laurel in the Daniels Ward, Heber City Utah East Stake, Lillian’s many blessings have prompted her to help lift the burdens of others.

Still, the young woman has known her own pain in recent years. Two severe knee injuries temporarily stunted her soccer development. She endured surgeries and months of rehabilitation. And in 2012, her adopted father, Tracy Martino, died unexpectedly at the age of 55.

But the gritty resiliency that once sustained a malnourished 3-year-old remains with Lillian today. Despite her setbacks, she has continued to work hard — advancing her foundation while pursuing her athletic dreams. She was recently awarded a scholarship to play soccer at BYU-Hawaii.

“I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish,” she said.