It's a campaign to prevent young girls from being targeted for trafficking in third world countries. East Bay representative and event host Suzanne Slupesky said, "When the traffickers, or bad guys, see a little girl and she's dressed nicely, they won't target her. They'll assume she's cared for, sponsored, or belongs to a family."
Similar to Quilting Bees of yesteryear when many women gathered together to speed the creation of quilts for everyone, the "Dress a Girl Campaign" draws women in huge numbers who are eager to participate.
"It's such a small thing to do," one woman says. While another adds, "I'm doing something; I'm making this dress. I know that somewhere some little girl is going to wear this dress."
The sew fests are hosted in homes, churches or anywhere that has enough room for women, sewing machines and their stockpiles of fabric, thread, lace, buttons and ribbon.
East Bay dressmakers added 241 dresses to the current nationwide total of 41,000. Dress A Girl Around the World is a division of Hope 4 Women, an organization started in the 70s to teach women in impoverished countries how to gain independence through such skills as gardening, sewing, making jewelry and managing their money.
Sue Bushell, Dress a Girl's Sacramento Area Coordinator, said, "There's a saying in Africa: ‘If you teach a man, you've taught a man. If you teach a woman, you've taught a family.'" Bushell has been sewing for half a century, making flannel layettes for babies in the Congo when she was just 10 years old. "I've always had a heart for children who didn't ask for their circumstances. Last March, I converted my living room into a sweatshop," she jokes. "One day I had six dressmakers. The next day I had 16.
These dresses from across the country are sent to Sacramento when they're boxed and distributed to missionaries to be put in their suitcases and hand delivered to little girls as part of their mission.
"We don't want to just ship them and then have them sitting in port for months or being resold," she said. Then Slupesky added, "We want them to be hand delivered by someone who tells them, ‘This is for you, this is to let you know you're loved, God loves you."
I think this is a wonderful way to volunteer for those of us who love sewing!
What do you think?