The Ladies of Trinity-By-The Cove Episcopal Church in Naples began making colorful dresses for the orphans in Tanzania four years ago. As news of their project spread, sewing groups were formed by several other groups in Naples, including St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, the First Presbyterian Church and a group of ladies living in the Deauville condominiums. One lady in the Trinity group has produced over 100 dresses herself and, reportedly, her children have challenged her to make 1,000 dresses!
Lis Wilson, the Sewing for Hope Director, reports that not a week goes by that she is not contacted by an individual or group interested in sewing the dresses. The calls have come from Michigan, Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Georgia, Massachusetts and from other cities in Florida. Other groups have also been formed in British Columbia, Canada, Aberdeen, Scotland and Norway. To date Sewing for Hope has produced approximately 1,650 dresses, 800 of them in 2013 alone.
Recently Lis received a call from a lady who mentioned that a number of women from Braintree, MA had come to Naples with dresses they had sewn and asking if they could meet with her for the delivery. They met at the Women’s Club of Naples. One of the women commented that sewing these dresses had been a wonderful project and that it was very rewarding to know that they could make a small difference in the lives of orphans living in Tanzania.
For orphans who may have had only one tattered and well-worn garment, these dresses bring dignity and great joy. Without decent clothing, they do not venture out into the village to attend church, since they believe that wearing ragged clothing in church dishonors God. With the dresses, the young girls are eager and able to attend church and go out to market. It is extremely meaningful to these youngsters to know that a special person from far away cared enough about them to hand-sew a dress especially for them.
In the past year, the Naples groups have also become involved with a wonderful organization called Days for Girls (“DFG”). DFG provides washable personal care kits for girls and women who have no sanitary supplies to use during their monthly menstrual cycle. During those days they are unable to go to school or to work. It is the mission of DFG to not only supply these reusable kits but also to educate the women in taking care of themselves with safety and dignity. The ladies from the Deauville condominiums sent 36 complete kits to Tanzania this year.