Women gather to piece kits for Dress A Girl
by Bonnie Kay Baldwin
Lake Mills Graphic
Last weekend, Oct. 5-7, three generations of women in one family—mother, Rachel Eggum Cinader, rural Leland; daughter, Lisa Foerster, and granddaughter, Jordan Witham, both from Britt; along with help from a few friends, hosted a first-ever campout and Dress a Girl Around the World event on Eggum Cinader’s acreage.
Eggum Cinader is the founder of Dress A Girl Around the World (and Hope for Women International), a Christian non-denominational non-profit organization serving women and girls who are in poverty and are at risk in various countries worldwide.
According to Eggum Cinader’s brochure on Dress a Girl, which began in 2009, it states that they deliver four pillars of hope through this program, which are dignity, health, joy and love:
• Dignity—Our goal is to restore a sense of worth to vulnerable girls suffering from extreme poverty. Being given a beautiful new dress and being told it was made just for her by someone who loves her and prays for her can give her a new feeling of self-worth and dignity;
• Health—We provide education in basic health and hygiene practices which leads to better health for the girls and their communities;
• Joy—Imagine a little girl being given a brand new, beautifully made dress, made just for her and being celebrated like a princess. She twirls around in joy and smiles. For most of these girls, this is a new exhilarating experience.
• As a Christian organization, the foundation of everything we do is to show the love of Jesus. Our hope is that once the people we help experience God’s love, they will pass it on in their communities.
The Dress A Girl program began with simple dresses made out of pillowcases. Now, there are also patterns for t-shirt cotton dresses, and peasant dresses, said Eggum Cinader. They range from baby to teen sizes.
“In October of 2009 we sent out our first 50 dresses, and as of now, we’ve sent out over a million dresses to 82 countries.”
Eggum Cinader is a Thompson native, but has lived in Phoenix, Ariz., until last year when she and her husband decided, as well as her daughter, to move back to the area.
So, beginning Friday night, they were still holding out hope that despite the inclement weather, a number of hardy women would set up tents and campers; their little storage shed (which had been temporarity turned into a bunkhouse) would house a few guests. For Saturday, their garage was ready to be filled with women making dresses and enjoying each other’s company; a trailer was turned into a store and the office, a place to hide raffle prizes and baskets.
Those who didn’t want to rough it would arrive Saturday morning for cinnamon and caramel rolls, ready for fellowship and sewing.
Besides family and friends who know Eggum Cinader, possible participants would find out through Facebook and their website.
“We are hoping for 15 campers and maybe 30 workers during the day,” said Eggum Cinader.
Karen Throne, Scarville, who was the one to contact the Graphic about this event, has a daughter-in-law who is Eggum Cinader’s niece, so Throne has known her for years. Throne has helped for some time now, with making dress kits.
“I enjoy it very much. It is satisfying to do this for these under-privileged girls. I look forward to this weekend and being able to see these women from different areas, working together on the dresses,” said Throne.
“Those women who will attend are all volunteers who have sewn for us and we just want to appreciate them,” said the founder. Dress A Girl takes donations for the materials.
After the dresses are made, they are hand-delivered to those in countries that don’t have one; either by volunteers who travel from the U.S. to those countries or by volunteers for the organizations living there.
“Let’s say we have 500 dresses to give away on a certain day. The hard part, is when there are more girls than dresses. That’s when we work with the locals and they tell us which girls are the worst off,” Eggum Cinader said.
Another aspect is the ‘buy a dress, give a dress’ option. At events like this weekend, anyone may buy a dress for a young girl that they know, and there are two made alike. The other one is donated for give-away. So, a little girl in another country has a matching dress.
When Eggum Cinader was asked what she was hoping for to happen this weekend, she replied, “Mostly awareness (of the program) and showing appreciation to the women that are doing the dresses. To get them together to have fun; kind of like the old time sewing bees. You don’t really get to know them until you are sitting there and talking over sewing.”
Note: As of Monday morning Oct. 8, Eggum Cinader updated the Graphic with a couple numbers from the weekend. She shared that about 40 women participated and around 60 dress kits were assembled. They did not have a count available for dresses made.
For more information contact: Rachel@h4wi.org.