Little Dresses for Africaby Kim Houseman • March 24, 2011
Christina Marsack’s dresses get around.
Marsack learned about an initiative that sends dresses to little girls in need
around the world. She heard about it from a friend who saw dresses being made at the Faith at Work Catholic bookstore and coffeehouse in Troy. The project was in support of Little Dresses for Africa, a Christian nonprofit group that sends dresses made from pillowcases to girls in Africa topromote a message of love, worth and hope.
The group also distributes dresses to other countries in crisis, including Honduras, Mexico and Haiti. “The dresses were beautiful, and all were so different. I made my first few dresses and dropped them off at the bookstore. The dresses were all sent to Rwanda with Immaculee Ilibagiza,” she said, referring to the author of the book “Left to Tell” and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. “These dresses were then brought back to her country to be distributed to Rwandan girls,”Marsack said. Marsack experienced the gratitude of the recipients firsthand last summer, when she handed out the garments in Honduras. She and her sisters attended a dental-related mission trip with University of Detroit Mercy’s Christian Dental Association. “We were in a small village where people had come from all over to receive free dental services,”Marsack explained. “The depth of poverty was evident, and the recipients of the dresses were very grateful. Although there was a language barrier, the expression of thanks was evident. I had one man come up to me and thank me for the dress I had given his daughter. His wife had recently died, and he was so thankful that something would bring joy to his little girl.” Marsack said each dress takes her about 45 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the level of detail she puts into it. She told friend Barbara Simony, also of Troy, about the initiative, and Simony was in. Simony scours local Salvation Army stores for gently used pillowcases to use as fabric for the dresses. She explained that the pillowcases are the right size, and the hemming for the pillowcases works well for the hems on the bottom of the dresses. “Each dress is so unique,” Simony said. “They can be very basic or elaborate.” Marsack said the next batch of dresses will be going to Rwanda in late April or early May with a friend. “We are hoping to send another batch to South Africa in August to a missionary team,” she said. “It’s easy to find places to send dresses to.”