Young movers and shakers in Accra say orphans and poor children need pride in their culture, not second-hand shoes.
A group of young Ghanaians created a non-profit to give children from poor neighborhoods bright new fashions for Christmas this year. Some of the clothes were designed by local artists and designers to encourage the disadvantaged children to value African culture and beauty.
The group, iHAVE, is bringing smiles to the faces of the children in deprived communities.
Members of the foundation are not only sharing gifts but using the opportunity to encourage children to turn their lives around, says spokesperson Satiya Abubakar.
Abubakar says members of the group are themselves in their 20s and looking to solve problems of the nation’s youth. In places where people see challenges, she says iHave sees opportunities to make a big differences in small ways.
“A lot of the youth have vision, but they do not know what to do, so we inspire them to put their vision to action,” Abubakar said.
Ribbon pieces become pretty dresses
Abubakar said in the past traditional Christmas giving to the disadvantaged has been to collect used clothes and old shoes.
“But we decided to give the children something brand new they can call their own,” she said.
One iHAVE project, “Pieces for Peace,” uses social media networks to further their goal.
The public can donate pieces of ribbon and cloth that can be made into new dresses and other gifts for more than 200 children of Teshie Orphanage and the Street Wise Orphanage.
iHave joined with "Cloth the Kid" for the very first Christmas project. Then, dress designers and tailors offered free services. The dresses are designed from African prints.
Not only do the designs encourage children to value the concept of African culture and beauty. It also lets designers show off their handiwork.
She said the children’s reactions were “awesome.”
"The emotion they displayed, it was like starting the new year with new clothes, so it was amazing," she said. "When we were about to leave, some of them clung to us.”
Books come before Instagram
After handing out the new clothes, the benefactors decided to find better books for the children. This year’s program will see the distribution of books and stationery to schools in parts of greater Accra and in Ghana’s northern regions.
“A lot of the kids know about Facebook and Instagram, and that is what they are anxious to learn. So, the same energy that they use to find out what is on the Internet, they should use to find out what is in books,” Abubakar said.
iHAVE also hopes to teach the children simple systems of rotating books among readers and to help them learn ways of managing their own small libraries in communities where schools keep their books in locked cupboards.
The organizers of iHAVE believe the children can follow their dreams and contribute to their country’s social and economic development.