The term “African orphan” usually conjures up images of starving, frail bodies and sunken, desperate souls in the “Western” psyche…
This stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. The children at Happy Kids Orphanage in Wegbe, Ghana personify their organization’s title to an extreme- with their friendly demeanors, relentless energy, and cheek to cheek smiles, these kids are among the happiest I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.
As part of our partnership with Happy Kids, Heidi and I accompany a few of the Della seamstresses to the orphanage each week to teach sewing lessons to the kids. Our program’s purpose is two-fold: first, the children involved in the Happy Kids sewing program are able to learn a marketable skill at an early age, which, when they grow up, can be used to generate a sustainable income for themselves and their future families; and second, the Della seamstresses that are involved get a chance to develop their leadership skills through teaching. And anyways… Sewing is fun!
Our latest unit has been a “Back to the Basics” review of the various methods of stitching, cutting and measuring, and how to attach zippers and buttons. Once we re-master the basics, we will be moving on to our next big project- backpacks with shoulder straps, a zipper pocket, and a folding top attached by a button- bonus!
Never have I seen children more excited about homework than here at Happy Kids. Anxious to master their skills and move on to making backpacks, these kids have been working hard to complete their assigned exercises and stitching samples. When I returned to Happy Kids after a long weekend, one of the girls ran up to me wanting to show me the worksheet she had completed as homework. Tugging my arm, she asked me to review it step-by-step and write corrections across the page. I happily obliged, playing teacher and writing a big “Great Work, Moda! Love, Alexa” with a smiley face and “100%” marking across the top. Her satisfaction with this assessment was evident as she promptly returned the worksheet to her portfolio, grabbed my hand and dragged me to the workbench to continue practicing stitches with her. Even when assigned homework, the joyful spirits of these “African orphans” shines through- they really are the happiest of kids.