By Greg Schick
Special to The SUN
Dr. Greg Schick and wife Dena, with help from Jane Parker, director of Pagosa Family School, will host an educational and informative program about Little Dresses for Africa (LDFA).
Rachel O’Neill, founder and director of LDFA, will present the program at the Archuleta County Extension building at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. The extension building is located at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds on U.S. 84.
LDFA started as a simple effort to provide dresses for and honor the little girls of rural villages in Malawi, Africa. The program has evolved into so much more. In addition to the distribution of dresses to the girls, boys receive shorts and sometimes baseball caps, which they love. The program has evolved into offering relief to the communities through clean water, new wells, education and food distribution to the widows who have lost husbands, largely due to the high incidence of AIDs in Africa.
Medical days are held to provide basic health screenings, malaria testing and appropriate medication for those who need it. Money has been raised for 50 wells, two primary schools, one preschool and a girls’ hostel. The hostel is for young girls 14-18 years of age who were trapped in childhood marriages. The girls have been removed from those marriages and placed in the hostels, where they can obtain an education.
Visits are also arranged to the overflowing orphanages so that help can be given to the babies in what ever manner may be appropriate. LDFA has a central distribution center to handle the dresses and other material and food that is given out throughout Malawi.
Malawi is not the only country that receives this help as distributions are made to 87 countries throughout the world. More than 6 million dresses have been distributed.
The program started in 2008 and has always been under the direction of O’Neill, who is based out of the Detroit, Mich., area.
In 2011, an NBC special highlighted LDFA on national TV and really gave a boost to the organization. That program is how Dena Schick found out about LDFA.
Dena Schick became involved in 2011 by making dresses for the program and took her first trip to Malawi in 2015. She came home very excited about the mission and told Greg Schick how interesting, educational, sad and uplifting it was and insisted that he go on the next trip. They have since been to Malawi three more times. It truly has been an incredible experience and they would like to share their travels and stories with the community.
Everyone in the community is welcome to attend as we believe it will be an enlightening experience and well worth your time. Refreshments will be served and questions will be answered after the main program and slideshow.
By Greg Schick