All Dressed Up for Della

7 Nov

All Dressed Up for Della

For the first time in a while, I was concerned about the dirt under my nails and my bizarre gladiator sandal tan lines. No dress fancy enough, so I set out to sew one. When I wasn’t sewing, I was running around town like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to find a pair of high heels that were simple, stylish, and rhinestone free. It’s not an easy task, believe me. “If only I would’ve packed a pair,” I kept telling myself, but I never thought I’d have an excuse to wear them on the muddy back roads of Hohoe. But then again, I never thought I’d have the honor of representing Della at the screening of USAID’s launch of The Ghana Multimedia Branding Campaign at the renowned Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra.

What a classy affair. It started with a red carpet and photos, was followed by wine, snacks, and socializing, and ended with a round of applause for Tina, Della’s founder.

The documentary featured Della as a shining example of a successful business venture in Ghana, with the hope that others might take the leap and invest in this bountiful country. It was a proud moment for all of us. We only wish Tina could’ve been there as well!

Now we’re back in Hohoe and have traded our high heels for barefeet. While it’s admittedly much more comfortable, I’d be more than happy to don it all again in the name of Della!


P.S. You can watch the feature here:


A Big Push

23 Oct

This week at Della, we’re excited about a grant opportunity. We hope to use this grant money to construct a production center so that we can create new jobs and expand our impact upon the Hohoe community. 

Please take the time to vote for us and share the link with your friends. You can vote once a day until November 24th.


Hello Hohoe!

20 Oct

There was once a day or maybe a handful where time and light fell still. I was working in a garage, seeming to exist only in a garage, and sleeping when the sugar ran dry. It was then, in Venice, CA, where I first met Della. Today the canvass is slightly greener and three years have passed, but I find myself meeting her once again.

I came to Hohoe to work for Happy Kids, the lovely school and orphanage you’ve heard so much about. And while I’ve only been here three weeks, the work and the company have quickly made it home.

Here the morning rises before the sun with roosters calling you from sleep. Mamas are sweeping, children are bathing, and shop owners are passing off to where I cannot see. There are patterns to movement here just like any other community, and before you’ve had the chance at your first cup of tea, you’re falling into life here as if it’s always been.

My days are filled mostly with teaching, playing, eating and working through ideas of development. The school and orphanage exist today as a non-profit, and as a result have in the past relied heavily upon donors. But tomorrow’s vision has our current development projects turning cash into chickens, and thus a self-sustaining community. Just as with Della, it’s about building a foundation for long term success.

I want to tell you of Moda, of Roland, of Elizabeth, of the faces and hands that make up Happy Kids. And I will. But for only today, I simply wanted to say hello. To say, it’s nice to meet you.

Be seeing you,


First week, first round…

10 Oct


My name is Zyad, or Kwame in Ghana (Saturday-born). I’m here as an intern at Della and I hope to learn about how Della makes a difference in the lives of women through fair trade practices.

It’s been two weeks since I arrived and have been getting to know the seamstresses and Hohoe little by little. The first day in Hohoe was my birthday, where I had a “wet welcome.” The seamstresses poured water all over me!


Last weekend, the neighborhood children and I organized our own World Cup. We had four teams: The Black Stars, Chelsea, Drogba, and of course, Morocco. We had a magical morning playing soccer in the yard. Team Morocco (Bless and I) won and all of the children are ready for a rematch next weekend.

Until next time,





A Wet Welcome

3 Oct

A Wet Welcome

Della has taken on a new intern now that Heidi has gone to Rwanda and Alexa is back in sunny California. His name is Zyad, and yesterday was his birthday.

As with any culture, Ghana has some particular birthday traditions. My personal favorite is the tradition of pouring water all over the person as a way to wish them well. Seeing as it was Zyad’s birthday and all, we decided a good old fashioned water dousing would serve as the perfect initiation to working for Della.

Now that I manage to speak a little Ewe, I was able to communicate secretly with the women during a large group meeting to introduce Zyad, telling them, “Water. Plenty of water. Outside. Not now, later. At 4:00.” Zyad looked at me with confused yet trusting eyes while I explained that the women had just informed me that they wanted to take a group photo with him outside after the meeting. “Oh, ok.”

They armed themselves with water bottles, water sachets, and filled up from the water bucket outside the workroom while unsuspecting Zyad chatted with Grave, the sewing machine repairman, on the porch.

I readied the camera and called him over. He warily approached the chair they had set out for him, seeing right through their suspiciously wide grins.

Lydia and Esenam began the attack, and Vic followed with an impressively strong and steady stream from her water sachet. I was very impressed by their dedication, and told them afterwards that I was proud beyond words.

Speaking of words, Zyad learned his first in Ewe that day: akpe nami, meaning “Thank you all very much.”


Solar Powah!

25 Sep

Last week, seven Della ladies participated in a solar power workshop organized by Impact Energies. This organization works to bring clean energy to developing countries to the people who need it most – those without electricity.

After the presentation, Della ladies brainstormed a list of everything they’d learned. We learned that:

• Solar power comes from the sun
• Solar power is clean energy
• Solar power is less expensive than electricity and kerosene
• Once you purchase solar panels, the energy is free
• Using kerosene can have negative health impacts (just like smoking)
• Kerosene causes many fires in Ghana
• Children can achieve better grades at school if they have good light

At the end of the all-day workshop, participants took a test. All of the Della ladies passed and earned certificates! They are now certified solar-power evangelists. This means that they have the knowledge to spread positive information about energy within their communities and to help those in need to get access to solar panels for their homes and businesses.

Va Mi Du Nu

19 Sep

There is a custom in Ghana where anytime someone around you is eating, they say “Va mi du nu“ which means, “You are invited.” We always respond by just smiling and saying thank you. It can get kind of awkward because I would never want to actually eat someone else’s food, yet they expect you to and sometimes persist until you do. It’s even more uncomfortable when I sit down to eat and people around me ask, “Am I invited?” I always giggle and say, “of course!” but secretly hope they don’t stick their fingers into my food.


Last evening while Rachael and I were coming home from Happy Kids, all of the neighbor children were out playing in front of our house. At one point the moms all called us over to their compound and told us we were invited to join them for their dinner of Banku and Okra stew. I went into autopilot and smiled and said thanks, but no thank you. One of the women explained that I needed to eat it so I could tell all my friends at home how good their food is. I again, said no thank you, but these women wouldn’t take no for an answer.


So they brought us seats, we washed our right hands, and sat down to take a bite. All the kids gathered around to anxiously watch the Yevo (white person) eat their Ghanaian food. I took a very small amount of the sticky Banku in my fingers and started to roll it into a ball. It was almost too hot to touch, I was nervous about putting it in my mouth. I immediately got ridiculed for not taking enough, so I gathered a bit more and dipped it into the slimy Okra stew.


As I took the bite, the heat and all the Pepe instantly attacked my tongue—I am a wimp when it comes to spices. All the kids and women burst out with laughter as we licked (well, rather scraped) our fingers clean. I swallowed it down, and surprisingly, I thought it wasn’t too bad. My only complaint was the spice…which I tried hard to hide, but unfortunately failed.


I stood up, thanked them for the food (which they replied by insisting we should stay and share it all…no thanks) and rushed off to gulp down some water. Overall, my first Banku and Okra stew experience was pretty humorous and not too bad…At least not compared to my first Fufu experience. But that’s a story for another time. 

Va mi du nu,