By Daniel Hamon
Mike and Beth Fox founded the Global Orphan Project in 2003 to help care for the neediest orphans and vulnerable children in some of the poorest areas of the world, "children of last resort with no viable means of care."
GO Threads is their new sustainability initiative with sewing centers that create local jobs, produce school uniforms and help sustain orphan care, starting with four locations in Uganda and Haiti.
In a recent letter, Mike explains how Go Threads came about:
When I started traveling to meet with our local partners several years ago, one seemingly small thing became a thorn in my side. School uniforms. I’d see these places of abject poverty, with orphaned children, abandoned children, and just plain poor children in the community naked or in filthy rags, sitting in the dirt, and then another group of children decked out in brightly colored, sharp uniforms bounding off to school. Even in situations where schools were “free” (government or privately funded schools), I saw the dividing line.
That frustrated me. I saw what I thought was injustice. I wanted schools to do away with the school uniform requirement. Our local partners insisted that we stop demanding and start listening.
Schools – even overcrowded, underfunded government schools – and the bright outfits of its students bring lift. Dignity. Possibility. Amidst smothering hopelessness, slipping a sharp uniform on to a hurting child lifts that child’s countenance to want to learn. To those children, something as simple as a school uniform means, “I am somebody.”
We listened. We learned. And we started funding some school uniforms for our children in care. We quickly found this lift our partners spoke of proved to be very real. If you’ve traveled to visit our children around the world, you’ve seen it. We were particularly struck by one little girl in Kabale, Uganda. When she came into care, and felt secure enough to openly talk to her caregivers, one of our local leaders asked her to describe her feelings. She could have said anything. “I can’t believe I have a home.” “I can’t believe I have food to eat everyday.” “I can’t believe that I have a momma here who shows me love.” Anything. She said none of these. Here’s what she said: “I never thought I’d go to school looking so ‘smart’ like other children.”