Ryonet Blog

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 rewarding with a happy ending.

But for most orphans, 600,000 worldwide, this isn’t the case. Many of the 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 create jobs in Haiti, paying makers 5x the living wage to produce socially and environmentally-kind shirts. Shirts that can keep families together, preventing parents from having to choose between their children. These shirts are made 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.


Your contribution to Allmade’s campaign will directly translate into 40+ jobs at the GOEX facility—an estimated 15 of which will be filled by graduates of the Transition Academy. It will set a precedent of consumer demand for t-shirts that are made ethically. And it will help us change the pattern of exploitation.

Please join us on our mission to change the world—one t-shirt at a time.




  • I support this %! It’s so good to see leaders in the industry making huge steps in changing a devastating epidemic. I believe this will continue to grow and motivate other companies to think twice about bottom dollar and join in making a difference.

  • Ryonet, this article touches the core of orphan can which for a very long time has been misunderstood as a fictional realism but the real picture of the millions of orphans around the world transcends what the West knows about Orphans. I am glad that your article gives a bit of attention to the ugly fate of what orphans face when they age out of poorly-funded or scarce orphan/foster care institutions at 18. Most orphans with whom my Foundation (http://www.thoushalleat.org/) works especially adolescent girls aren’t prepared for the challenges of adulthood, with necessary life or job skills with broken safety nets, they are plunged into a vicious cycle of poverty, abuse, neglect and the creation of more orphans and vulnerable children. The concerted efforts of all is required to help transform these many lives and I am proud of your approach which emphasizes your CSR. I agree with you that it doesn’t have to be like what it has been till now and that together, we can change the pattern.

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