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.