Landlocked between Zambia and Tanzania in southeast Africa, is the small country of Malawi. It has more than sixteen million residents and yet is a smaller land mass than San Bernardino County. One in sixteen residents is an orphaned child in large measure due to an HIV/AIDS pandemic. Half of the orphans are girls who are the most devalued and abused people in their culture. Girls face abuse, molestation, abduction into slavery and sex trafficking.
Ever wonder when God is going to fix all this? I would suggest that perhaps God has already started a way out and it may include you.
Two of Saint John’s parishioners, Barb and Dee, are helping orphans in Africa by collecting pillow cases. Dee takes each pillow case and converts it (easily, she says) into a dress. Barb gives the dresses to an organization, Little Dresses for Africa, which in turn delivers Dee’s dresses to girls in need.
You might wonder, how much can one dress change a girl’s life? On a relief mission to Malawi, the organizers of Little Dresses for Africa saw the tattered and torn dresses of the precious orphaned children. The ragged dresses are loud beacons that announce they are orphans which means that in all likelihood no one will stand up for them or protect them; there are just too many of them and poverty is too widespread.
And, as such, immoral and nefarious people take advantage of their orphan and unprotected status.
One night, in prayer over this situation, an idea came to the organizers. They could take a pillow case and with some pretty ribbon, turn it into a dress. The next day they opened the closed section of a pillow case, cut the corners off, and sewed a ribbon into the top so that it could be tied in the back. They slipped it over the head of an orphan girl who delighted in her new dress. Her status immediately changed.
The little dress protected her. Despicable people who abduct girls into the slave trade tend to leave children alone who have these pretty dresses. Think of it as a security company sign in front of a house. The would-be robber, upon seeing the sign, moves on, not willing to take the chance. Little Dresses for Africa is changing the world, one converted pillow case dress at a time.
How many pillow cases do you have in your house? Could you spare one or two? If so, you can help Barb and Dee in their quest to help orphaned girls.
Ever wonder what God is up to in the world? Perhaps the answer is in your linen closet.
- Fr. Marshall