Thursday, July 31, 2014

Teach them to Fish, or Sew!

Good things are happening for the sewing center in Ghana.  Billa Mahmud started this center after parents in the community saw how education was helping open doors for their children and asked him to teach them too. He came up with the bright idea of starting vocational centers where adults could learn a trade for free. All he asked is that they Pay it Forward, by teaching others in turn.

Sewing center that is making a difference in the lives of needy woman and children.
This is the sewing center at Future Leaders UCC in front of the children's center. The women sit outside on wooden benches, in front of a shipping container they lock up at night. I was so surprised to see them using the old fashioned petal push black Singer sewing machine. I thought there had to be newer sewing machines that were just gathering dust in peoples closets back home in America. We have so much more than we need and they need so much. Let's share!

They make aprons and bags using colorful traditional African fabrics. The quality is amazing.

Teaching a workshop on the techniques and life of Monet while traveling from Paris to Normandy.
I wear my African apron every day when I paint. I even brought it with me to France last year when I taught an Impressionism workshop. Here I am wearing wearing my African apron as I paint in Monet's garden in Giverny France.

Adrienne Kralick is collecting sewing machines to send to Ghana to help woman learn a trade.
I gave a talk at the Vale Club, a local women's club near my home in Oakton, and mentioned that I was looking for sewing machines to send in my next shipment to Africa. Well, the generous women there helped me collect 6 sewing machines. Ann Marquis has been a real angel. She bought several machines at The Closet in Herndon, Virginia where she volunteers weekly. She has a huge and altruistic heart. 

This apron was made at a center is empowering women and girls by teaching them the skill of sewing.
So, I gave her a beautiful African created by the women at the sewing center to remind her that each machine she bought is creating a job for a woman and helping a family.  (That is my sweet little dog, Leonardo DaPuppy)

My good friend from college, Rhonda Amosoro brought over 2 machines plus donated money to pay to ship them. I paid between $15 and $25 a box to put them on the shipping container last year. I have not asked for monetary donations because I never feel comfortable doing that. (But, I would be happy to accept any if so inclined.: )

Nothing is as easy as it seems. We realized that the machines would not work in Ghana without a power converter. So, I mentioned that on Facebook. Social media worked! Donna Barnako, a jewler and fiber artist I used to represent when I had my gallery, offered to send me a check to pay for the converters from her vacation in Maine. People can be so generous! I told her that I wanted to put her picture on my blog but she told me just to post some pictures the kids.

So here is Donna's picture and pictures of cute kids.

 So, here here are some cute kids. I took this photo of some little ones playing in the dirt of the vocational center while their mothers worked.

 I saw this picture of Micheal on the Future Leaders Facebook page and they don't get any cuter than this.

This is a beautiful web that is growing. Akua Inspirations is a business that was started by a young woman in Canada who volunteered at Future Leaders last summer. I ordered the aprons from her. I hope to buy a whole pile of aprons and bags next time I go to Ghana.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My husband and son contribute their computer skills to help the cause

 My husband and son are spending Saturday morning repairing old computers and printers to send to the little computer lab at Future Leaders in Ghana and to the local public school in Teshie.

Father and son help needy children in Africa by repairing old computers.

Stephen Kralick is a rising sophomore at Virginia Tech studying computer engineering and my husband is an Informational Technology executive at IBM so this is perfect way for them to help the children in Africa with their education.

Virginis Tech sophomore is helping his mother help a charity in Ghana Africa my repairing and recycling computers.

Technology and Art together - My son is sitting under one of my African oil paintings while trying to take the working pieces from two different broken hard drives and make them work together.

These computers are being recycled by the Kralick family and are going to school that provide free education to needy children in Ghana, West Africa.
My kitchen is full of computers and printers but recycling these by sending them on to the schools in Ghana that don't have any computers at all is a win win. They are not doing any good sitting in my basement.

Future Leaders in Ghana helps needy children get an education for free.

Here is a picture of the little computer lab at Future Leaders UCC in Teshie where many of the new technology will go. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to travel to Africa and help set up the new ones.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A new school for the needy children is a dream come true

There is so many exciting things going on right now in my project, Painting Brighter Futures for the kids at Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center in Ghana.

This is  a picture of the children on the land that will one day be a school for them. A place where all the local kids who can't afford the minimal fees needed to attend the public school, can come and learn for FREE. Billa's Maumud's dream is coming true.  His dream of a school where all children can learn no matter how poor.  He has met with the village elders, negotiated a deal and received the money needed for his down payment. The kids were so excited to take rides in trotroes(little African mini buses) to stand on the land and sing songs and dance.

For perspective, right now these little structures on a rented property serve as classrooms for 150 children. There are 130 kids on the waiting list. These are children who cannot afford to go to public school and  would not a chance at an education if it were not for Billa Mahmud and his Future Leaders Children's Center. With the new land, the money being spent on rent can now go to educate more children. 

Billa has come a long way since he starting to teach 5 street kids under this mango tree. He is a real example of how one person, with a dream can make a big difference.

Here are some pictures of the kids with new clothes send from the UK. I can't wait to see pictures of their smiling faces when the donations I am sending in August get there.

I am shipping these boxes in August. They have quickly taken over my garage.

I have a minion of angels now out there collecting donations for the kids. In this picture retired school teacher Marge Buzzelli drops off school supplies,

More later, my friend Rhonda Amoroso is just pulling up with donations of clothes and another sewing machine. We now have 6 machines going to the sewing center where parents are learning a vocation for free.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Girls feel powerful when they go to school

 To purchase this painting

I have just added this painting to the site. I call it "Girl Power".  It is so much more than a colorful scene of a little girl walking down a dirt road. She is charged up, empowered, she just got off the bus from school! I know, because I was on the bus with her that day. Going to school is a big deal where she lives in one of those little shacks in the distance. I love the confidence in her walk.

She is one of the fortunate kids who is going to Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center, near Accra, Ghana in West Africa where children from needy families can learn for free.

This 8 x 10 original oil painting is available for $350. Limited edition prints are $95. If you purchase this painting or any painting on my site you will be helping to build a school for this little girl and others like her. Proceeds from each sale are donated to Future Leaders UCC.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recycle you old computer to help children in need

I just heard from Billa in Ghana that the local public school near his underprivileged children's center does not even have a computer. We would like to find computers to give them too. The tiny computer lab we started last year, in an old shipping container, is not only helping the children learn but has been an asset to the community. I know so many people upgrade computers every couple of years and the old ones are just taking up space on a shelf somewhere. Please consider donating your old lab top or small desk top to help these needy children learn. 

Send me an email if you have one to give.
This is the computer lab when it started in May of 2013.

The computer lab today is still humble but now has chairs and more computers. I get such a kick out of seeing my donations in use.

I have been boxing up donations in my garage for the shipment that will leave in August. There is still time to contribute. I always post pictures of the donations once they reach their new home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shipping to Ghana in August

Word has spread and I now have a minion of angels out collecting donations for the needy families in Ghana. Someone stops by at least once a day to drop something off and I love the company of  like minded people. We all hate to see the excesses here in America go to waste when there are people who really need them. 

What started out as just a pile has now filled my garage. Good thing it is summer and the cars can go outside.

Marge Buzzelli, is a former school teacher and has been going to various schools like Wolf Trap Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary to collect material from the teachers as they clean out their classrooms for the summer.

Anne Marquis works at The Closet, a resale shop in Herndon, VA and has been buying books and sewing machines for Future Leaders. Yup, she has been shopping her store, plus garage sales and church flea markets. One Saturday,  my son ran into her at a garage sale when they were both reaching for the same books. When she mentioned she was shopping for kids in Ghana. He said, "Oh those are for my mom", and they became shopping buddies and were able to carry more books together.   Here is Anne dropping off a sewing machine with my husband Ken.

I discovered a great way to get clothes for the kids. The school lost and founds! Here is a picture of the big bag of sweatshirts I am washing to get them nice and clean for the kids. 


There is so much more to say, but so little time. There is big news about the land for the school and so much to do to get ready for the next shipment. I will try to blog more on a regular basis now that so much is going on.

Oh and Today I am selling this print to help raise funds to ship the donations. To learn more go to my store