What Does it Mean to Be an Orphan?

What comes to mind when you hear the word, “orphan?”

Annie? Tom Sawyer? Harry Potter? Cinderella? For many of us who are fortunate enough to live in the U.S, or another “first-world” country, our knowledge of orphans is limited to literary heroes and heroines who have lost their parents in a tragic accident. These romantic figures invariably go on to conquer their challenges, and are rewarded with a happy ending.

But for most orphans, 600,000 worldwide, this isn’t the case. Many real-world orphans have in fact lost their parents, but not due to a tragic accident. Rather, they have lost them to financial hardship. In places like Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, workers are exploited by manufacturing companies, who take advantage of their dire circumstances to source cheap labor.

The apparel industry is one of the biggest culprits. A large percentage of the 2 billion t-shirts produced each year are made in Haiti, where workers earn $3/day, to support households of, on average, 8 people. Needless to say, sometimes those wages aren’t enough. And parents are forced to abandon their children to be cared for by community organizations and local churches.

These orphans face a tough road ahead. When they age out of care at 18, often they aren’t prepared for the challenges of adulthood, with necessary life or job skills. In their sexual prime and without a strong foundation, the cycle repeats itself. Soon, they find themselves working in a factory, struggling and failing to support their own families, creating more orphans.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Together, we can change the pattern.

Allmade has partnered with the Global Orphan Project to make our shirts in the GOEX facility, a business venture of the GO Project that invests 100% of its profits back into programs that support orphans.

Among these projects is the Transition Academy. The Transition Academy is designed to help children who are aging out of community-sponsored care, providing them with housing, education, life and vocational skills to help ensure a successful transition to adult independence. Seventy students are currently enrolled. The Academy offers majors in Agriculture, Diesel Mechanics, and Apparel. Those in the Apparel track learn hands-on skills at the GOEX facility where Allmade shirts are produced. Seven students are in the facility right now, with plans to grow. Eight have already graduated and are working full-time at GOEX.

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