Joyful Hands make little dresses

-A A +A

Children in Haiti and Guyana helped

By Patricia A. Woodburry

Once upon a time, a woman from Detroit, Michigan, took a birthday trip to Africa. Along the way she visited villages where she saw sadness in the children with their torn, dirty clothes. She decided to do something to raise their spirits. She started making little dresses. This idea spread by word of mouth to other communities and states across America. Soon thousands of little dresses were being sent to Africa. Little Dresses of Africa is now a Christian-based non-profit organization which distributes these dresses to girls in remote villages in Africa through orphanages, churches, missions and schools.


The sewing group, Joyful Hands, at Joy Lutheran Church decided to take up this activity as one of their projects. Under the leadership of Georgia Adams, the group renamed their project to “Little Dresses for Haiti and Guyana.” One of the reasons for the change was based on the recognized need for help in the northern hemisphere. Also they had access to these countries through the Florida/Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA). The Global Missions team travels to Haiti and Guyana several times each year and can deliver and distribute the dresses.

Since the project was initiated just this past September, 35 dresses were made and sent to the children and 73 more dresses were sent this past month. The ladies use a generic pattern, a style that is made either from pillow cases or with colorful yard goods.

Each dress is uniquely special with added buttons, a pocket or decorative applique such as a butterfly. The dresses are made in several sizes to fit the smallest to the tallest girl. Ms Adams says that it gives her a “good feeling” just being involved in this project.

This is a cooperative effort where many can participate by providing sewing materials, sewing or giving money. The Joyful Hands group has also involved the local Ocala chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG) in this effort. This is a nationwide group of sewing enthusiasts who participate in community service projects.

Adams says that the project has caught on so well, she sees it to be an on-going activity for the church group. This nationwide program is a way of uniting communities here and across the ocean by groups working together. They are not just sending dresses by are also sending hope.