Skip to content

Dress a girl around the world

“Imagine a world where every little girl owns a new dress!” These powerful words were the start of an idea in a local lady’s head. Bev Eilers had heard about the project to make dresses for girls in Africa, from someone in Regina.
Dress a Girl Around the World
Edna Kernel (l) and Bev Eilers are packing beautiful print dresses, for the Dress a Girl Around the World project, at Sacred Heart Parish Hall in Virden on June 1. The suitcases of clothing will be taken by Father Eric Zadji to three villages in Africa. Photo/Anne Davison

“Imagine a world where every little girl owns a new dress!” These powerful words were the start of an idea in a local lady’s head. Bev Eilers had heard about the project
to make dresses for girls in Africa, from someone in Regina.

Dress a Girl Around the World provides patterns for the dresses. According to website information (www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com) this may be the only dress these girls own.

Instructions explain that a good quality dress with the Dress a Girl label on the outside, indicates that an organization is looking after these children – a deterrent to predators, and may keep a girl safe.

Inspired by what she had seen, Eilers took the idea to an organization that she belonged to – the Catholic Women’s League of Sacred Heart Parish, Virden. The idea was met with overwhelming
approval.

“It’s almost unbelievable,” remarked Eilers of the response. “The idea came from me, because I read the article.”

A group of ladies, consisting of CWL members, ladies of Sacred Heart Parish, along with others from the community, got together and obtained the pattern from Dress a Girl Around the World.

“The next step was to find the necessary material to make these dresses, and therefore, the request went out. What a tremendous response!” writes Lea Colbeck.

“We purchased material as well as having some donated,” says Eilers. Donations came from women in the parish as well as from a Hutterite Colony and a quiltinggroup in Virden.

Edna Kernel, maker of Wendy’s Caps (for cancer patients), has helped with the project. She received a donation of fabric. “A lady brought me a box of fabric for making caps, but it wasn’t suitable
for making caps...” says Kernel. So, she put the fabric toward this project instead.

Up to eight women have been involved in making the dresses for babies to teens. “There were ladies who didn’t sew, but they ironed,” said Eilers.

“There are instructions as to how to make [the dresses]. Because the girls wash these in the river on rocks, they have to be strong,” she explained.

After a few weeks of enjoyable labour and socializing, a total of 119 dresses in various sizes had been made and labeled, ready to be sent to those girls who need them.

On June 1, women were busy packing the brightly coloured dresses. The initiative has dove-tailed with travel plans, making a way for the clothing to reach girls who will appreciate them.

Destined for Africa Father Eric Zadji, Priest of Sacred Heart Parish, the Catholic Church in Virden, volunteered to take these dresses to Africa.

And as stated on the Dress a Girl website, the dresses are more than clothing, they are “sharing God’s love with these little ones...helping them discover their worth, beauty and dignity.”

Father Zadji is transporting the dresses to Benin, Nigeria. He left last week on a trip to see his family.

He will be distributing the work from dressmakers in Virden in three villages: Dékanmey is a town and arrondissement (administrative division) in the Atlantique Department
of southern Benin, with a population of about 4,300; Toffo is a town and commune in the Atlantique Department of southern Benin - the commune covers an area of 515 square kilometres
with a population of about 5,000 people; Allada is a town, arrondissement, and commune, covering an area of 381 square kilometres with a population of about 92,000.