Dare to wear love? In the depths of Africa, the HIV scourge has left many mothers without husbands. These women struggle on day in day out with the burden of HIV infected children. Most times there is no medication to help them fight the HIV eating away their loved ones and take care of themselves. There is even not much for a healthy meal to boost their immune system. Soon after the father dies, the mother would often give up the fight against HIV and there you have the children fighting alone. These children Fend for themselves with no one to look out for them. This story is lived out by many children and mothers in the heart of Africa.
A couple of years ago at an awards dinner, fashion designers Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell started chatting with the woman that sat next to them about vacations. Going to Africa and just doing something different seemed good. In fact Mr. Searle recalled their conversation at their Toronto-based company’s head quarters. “Hoax Couture! I do some projects in Africa, I will be sure to give you a call” She said. She turned out to be the daughter of former diplomat and politician Stephen Lewis-Ilana Landsberg Lewis. She was the executive director in charge of the Stephen Lewis foundation a charitable organization with head offices in Toronto. This organization caters for the African women and children who live with HIV and Aids.
The plight of the women and children in Africa living with HIV and Aids caught the attention of these two designers. Their interest in the charity organization got them into learning more about the organization. How do we contribute towards this noble course? This was now the burden of their hearts.
Mr. Tyrell would closely identify with the orphaned children not necessarily from HIV and Aids. The charity’s contribution to children who lost their parents to HIV and Aids touched his heart. ‘I am an orphan,” he said thoughtfully. “My grandmother took me in and raised me…, “he continued as though walking through his childhood again. And if this does not connect with me, then nothing else will.
This attachment gave birth to greater interest in seeing something is done for the suffering-poor children of the African continent. Given that fashion was their lives, they would start at it and raise funds through fashion shows. The contribution could just be a few thousand dollars; it did not matter. They would have made an effort for those children and women and that was all that mattered.
Remember the saying “don’t despise humble beginnings?” The initiative started small but with time there were many other people joining the initiative. It grew larger by the day becoming a very strong force towards the initiative’s goals. With much planning and brainstorming, ‘Dare To Wear Love’ was conceived! Dare To Wear Love is an annual event that brings together 25 designers for fashion show. Each designer is given six yards of African fabric. They are to make the best and most out of the fabric.
For five years running now, ‘Dare to Wear Love’ fashion shows have raised for the struggling women and children in Africa leaving with HIV and Aids. March 28, 2014 was big day! The Dare to Wear Love fashion show marked the fifth of the shows and was also the biggest! It has so far raised $275,000.
Recently, the two designers were in Africa to see the work and projects that the Dare to Wear Love gala contributions had accomplished.
It is such a wonder how a piece of cloth-traditional African cloth-could be an instrument for much good and benefit to the suffering. Whatever it is in your hand, do it with all your heart; it will bless you and others.