Alberta-made dresses sewn with love and care for Kenya


Anya Delafield is sowing into the lives of Kenyan girls — one stitch at a time.

The nine-year-old Lacombe area resident is using her passion for sewing to create dresses for girls who otherwise wouldn’t have a second dress.

She’s made four dresses for children at A Better World Canada-sponsored Gilgil Primary School located two hours northwest of Nairobi towards Nakuru.

Anya is among thousands of Canadian children who are making a difference in East Africa. ABW co-founder Eric Rajah is grateful for their involvement.

“One of ABW’s goals is to inspire other people,” said Rajah. “Anya is an example of how no matter how young you are or old, you can do something. You may not have money but you can take a skill that you have and help others. There is a purpose for (Anya’s) sewing… she makes other people think about what they can do.”

Naomi Delafield enrolled her daughter in a Kids Can Sew class in Lacombe in 2015 and since then, Anya has made everything from pillows to skirts and blankets.

“She’s always been wanting to do things with her hands,” says her mother Naomi. “She likes to make things. She’s very creative.”

Anya was familiar with A Better World and what it was doing overseas. Her parents, Naomi and David, have volunteered on trips. As well, Naomi directs the Rosedale Valley Strings Orchestra, which has raised funds for ABW projects for about 15 years.

When Anya asked if there was anything she could do for ABW, Rajah told her that “young girls in Kenya need more dresses.”

Anya’s sewing teacher Melissa Petersen suggested making pillow case dresses. With her encouragement, Anya was able to make three dresses in class, each taking about an hour to do.

“Basically, you sew a pillow case and cut arm holes and then you hem them,” Anya said.

Anya also made a sun dress that took about five hours to finish. Thankfully, her aunt Joy Brett, visiting from New Zealand was able to help with the more complicated pattern.

“We sewed a skirt for the bottom and made a double-sided bodice with buttons in the back,” said Anya.

Anya’s other pastimes include weaving, playing violin in the orchestra, and tending to her carrot garden. The Delafields live on a farm about 20 km northeast of Lacombe.

Naomi is proud her oldest child wants to make a difference for children so far away. The couple have two other children — David, two, and Annika, five.

“It’s important that children be empowered with knowing that they can do something, even if it’s just raising a few dollars for a project,” Naomi said. “They’re very capable.”

Anya, who will enter Grade 4 this fall and is homeschooled, was pleased that her dresses were going to less-fortunate girls.
“It feels good to know that I am helping them,” she said.

Rajah delivered the dresses on June 24. A school teacher chose four orphaned girls from a nearby slum area who attend the school.

“All the girls said through a translator that this was the first set of new clothing they had,” said Rajah.

The girls will wear the dresses for special occasions like attending church, he added.

Anya plans to sew several more dresses that would be forwarded on a trip this fall. It’s likely they’ll go to children at Gilgil Girls School due to need, said Rajah.