Those closest to me have had it up to their ears with my ultimate vision for Africa on My Sleeve. Truth be told there is nothing scarier in this world than revealing your passion to those around you. I am going to go right out and blame human nature for my fear.
When Africa on My Sleeve was founded it began as an idea to give visibility to designers in New Zealand who were inspired by Africa. It was also a move to increase the visibility of the African community and culture from a different perspective. As I began learning about the various African inspired designers, I fell in love with the industry as well as their individual stories. It wasn’t long till I realized that fashion was not only about looking good and flossin’ but that it also has the power to change lives.
At the end of the 2013 showcase, we went back to the drawing board as a team and established the three initiatives we are currently focusing on. At the back of our minds the biggest question we had was “how can we make a difference in this world?” We didn’t want to rush into establishing our philanthropic aim or come up with something that would be put in place just for the sake of it. We wanted our philanthropic aim to be a reflection of our passions and to be the foundation and driving force behind our actions. We basically wanted it to be our reason for breathing.
As we were continuing our existing projects, I became interested in the cultural industries and community development. It was during a lecture I attended at one of the universities about social change and community development that it hit me like a tonne of bricks. During lunch with my father that same afternoon I shared with him my passion for education and economic empowerment of women. My question was “what can be done for the African girl child?”
I then shared this with the rest of the team and we began to get a clearer idea of what it was we wanted to achieve. We began to get excited about the change that we wanted to see in the world. The following is a summary of the vision of Africa on My Sleeve, our big sticky dream.
At its core I believe it will change someone’s live and give them hope. For me that’s huge. Yes it is still about African inspired fashion but at its root it is about the community.
The big dream for Africa on My Sleeve is to provide employment opportunities for women in Africa. Our focus will be on those living in the villages, something very dear to me. We will provide employment opportunities by providing resources for them to make clothing and jewelry. We will then sell the items on their behalf and give the money to them for their work. In addition to that we will establish as a group (in close consultation with the women) what projects we can do for the community they reside in. It can involve building a new borehole, new road, purchasing farming supplies and so on as long as it involves bettering the lives of a community.
On the side we will also focus on sending three girls to school. This will include paying for school fees, buying uniforms and the resources needed for them to get through.
Why women and girls? Because I believe that women are the backbone of society.
This may seem like a hell of a lot and it really is but at the end of the day if I am able to send three young women to school, build a well and change someone’s life I will be one happy chappy. When it comes down to it, that’s what life is about. Doing a little something to make someone else’s life a little better.
To start this project off we have created a Give a little page.
Together we can change lives and develop communities. Every dollar counts so please support this worthy cause.