Dozens of local women aiding girls around the world from Grass Valley
Submitted to The Union
Since the summer of 2017, Soroptimist International of Grass Valley has been joined by dozens of area women in producing handmade dresses for young girls in several countries across the world.
Originally the brainchild of “Hope For Women International,” another organization dedicated to empowering and educating women, this project creates easy-to-sew, simple dresses and takes them to remote (or not so remote) areas of the world. It became known as “Dress A Girl Around the World” and has been found to deter sex-traffickers from kidnapping young girls. The premise is that the traffickers stay away from the girls dressed in a garment that someone has lovingly sewn for them, as it signifies that she is being watched over and cared for.
The “Dress A Girl” campaign was adopted as the Governor’s project in the Sierra Nevada region, a part of Soroptimist International of the Americas. The local club headed by Judy East, Jenni Johnson and Ruth Evans, co-presidents for 2017-19, appointed member Lynn Mehren-Costa to organize a local movement to gather materials, put together dress “kits” and make dresses to be taken to several countries by local volunteers.
By January 2019, Soroptimist International of Grass Valley will be close to reaching their goal of 1,000 dresses in one year. These have been lovingly made by people who answered a public call to sew to protect children from kidnapping.
Three hundred dresses were taken to Central Uganda and handed out to young girls in three different villages by Costa and volunteers from Twin Cities Church. Fifty dresses each have gone to both the Thai/Burma border with an organization called “Metta Calana” (a women’s health organization) and to Cambodia, to a girl’s orphanage.
Another 100 were just taken this summer to Nairobi, Kenya with the “HEART for Africa” organization to be handed out at a girl’s school there.
The success of this venture has encouraged Soroptimist International of Grass Valley to continue their endeavors to dress girls in sex trafficking danger zones. Events are now scheduled to craft more “kits” and have them ready to hand out to all who want to join in the production of these dresses.
The “kitting” events will held on three days: Saturday, Sept. 8, Oct. 13, and Nov. 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church on Highway 174, Grass Valley, in the gymnasium.
The public is invited to join in the effort to produce the next batch of dresses which are earmarked for several non-profits with connections in parts of the world where there is a dire need. There is no need to know how to sew as there sizing, cutting and putting together “kits” to hand out to the volunteer seamstresses to finish the dresses.
For those interested in helping who may have extra pieces of 100 percent cotton fabric (even scraps), lace trim and bias tape, can donate supplies those days as well. Many volunteers will then continue to sew with a goal of an additional 300 to 400 dresses readied for another trip to Uganda in January of 2019.
Costa added that being in the group who visited three villages in Uganda to deliver the dresses was a highlight of her life. The villagers were most grateful for the clothes and even asked her to teach them to sew, she said.
She learned that there is an urgent need for clothes for boys and has now arranged a partnership with the “Dress a Dude” project to make and deliver boys T’s and shorts. Now the group is especially looking for local connections who want to help with purchasing and/or donating the T-shirts needed.
She added that both Soroptimist International and the “Dress a Girl” campaign appreciate how so many women in Nevada County and elsewhere have stepped forward to donate materials and then cut, trim and sew the dresses.
Marilyn Adams George is part of the Soroptimist International of Grass Valley
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