Sisters spearhead effort at Fair Haven parish to protect girls in impoverished countries
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on outreach in our parish communities as faithful go above and beyond to help those in need.
By Erik Weber | Correspondent
The goal of volunteers in Nativity Parish, Fair Haven – to provide girls in impoverished countries the chance to own their own dress – can ultimately help protect them from human trafficking.
On May 20, dozens of area Girl Scouts, dressmakers and parish, high school and neighborhood volunteers gathered to sew dresses, turning the quiet Nativity parish hall into a beehive of activity.
The effort was inspired by sisters Claire, 17, and Monica Haynes, 10, who happened to catch a newspaper article that profiled the Dress a Girl Around the World project, an outreach of the Christian nonprofit Hope 4 Women International, based in Iowa.
“My two daughters got so excited because they thought, ‘We can make a difference,’” said their mother, Mary, of Nativity Parish.
She explained that the nonprofit had conducted a survey showing that children who are in the clutches of poverty not only need new dresses, but also protection from human trafficking. Sewing a label onto the outside of clothing can help in that effort.
The survey, Haynes continued, showed “that if there was an emblem on a clean, new dress, that emblem would show that the girls were cared for, and so traffickers would stay away.”
“It’s wonderful to know that the simple act of making a dress is really a lifesaving event,” she added.
And so women and girls measured, pinned, cut, sewed and adjusted the materials for new dresses made with love that will find their way from the Jersey Shore to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Uganda, Thailand and beyond – hand-delivered by project missionaries this year. Also helping the effort were local professional dressmakers Karen E. Lozner, of Karen’s School of Fashion, along with her main instructor, Claire Rand, and three additional interns.
Made of durable, 100 percent cotton, each dress will carry a “Dress a Girl” logo on the outside.
Monica Haynes explained the design for the garment was a “simple, long dress with pockets and a tie in the back,” and that they had to be able to withstand “cleaning [in] streams with rocks” and thick enough to retain the wearer’s dignity by preventing their body from showing through from within.
Added her mother, “Monica decided they should have pockets [because] sometimes these girls are living in very crowded scenarios … and so they have no place to put their treasures.”
“Sometimes these will be the only dresses these girls have [so] we want to make sure that we send this dress with a lot of love from the Church of Nativity,” noted Mary Haynes.[[In-content Ad]]