Dressing girls around the world

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Linda Trust, left, alumnae and donor relations officer for the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, and Beth Evartz, communication specialist for the Girl Scouts, contend with colorful armfuls of sundresses donated by volunteer seamstresses and members of many Girl Scout troops who sewed the dresses from a shared pattern obtained online from Hope 4 Women International, a charity whose mission to empower and educate women in need in many countries has led to the distribution since 2009 of a million dresses to 150 countries in the "Dress a Girl Around the World" campaign.

The heartbreak that surely is a part of swaddling a Haitian newborn in newspaper because there is no better fabric is similarly matched by the greed of human traffickers on the prowl for young Haitian girls unkempt and clothed in rags.

Currently, a “Dress a Girl Around the World” campaign is succeeding in garbing many of the orphans there in spiffy new sun dresses. The move reportedly reduces the instances of predator activity, for their pickings tend to be neglected urchins. The gift of 600 simple sun dress sewn with threads of love by a legion of volunteer seamstresses is en route to Haiti.

Girl scouts and other participating seamstresses recently crafted the donation to the ongoing campaign. Local Girl Scout leaders Beth Evartz, communication specialist, and Linda Trust, alumnae and donor relations officer, fully backed the effort, as did longtime Manchester seamstress Doris Basquil, owner of Sew Right Every Time, a Merrimack sewing school offering private and semi-private lessons. The dresses were collected at Bedford High School on Thursday, Feb. 22 by Jacqueline Dewey, ambassador for the Dress a Girl Around the World campaign in Maine and New Hampshire.

“I’ve been involved for more than two years and have seen around 5,000 dresses distributed from Maine and New Hampshire,” Dewey said. “The dresses go to infants and to older girls and they serve as proof that the girls are not alone in the world.”

The effort was aided with no delay by Evarts, Trust and nearly 200 members and friends of the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, whose Bedford headquarters is scouting central for around 10,000 girls from New Hampshire and Vermont. The sewing project was adopted during “World Thinking Day,” an opportunity offered since 1926 to Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in 150 countries. This year’s activities had global themes.

The participants delivered the dresses and gifts of baby blankets, plush toys, sun caps and other niceties to the cafeteria at Bedford High. Tables there were laden with the vivid handiwork of nearly 200 scouts and adult volunteers. They sewed the dresses from a shared pattern, working at home or during sew-a-thons at churches or other sites including Sew Right Every Time, whose volunteers made 70 dresses.

Each of the sun dresses made from the pattern had a pair of pockets on the front. One of the pockets on every dress had small blue label touting, “Dress a Girl,” a tip-off to evildoers that this girl is well managed and under watchful care. The pocket also contained a pair of underwear and a doll or hair comb.

Dewey marveled at the donation. She said the campaign originated with Hope for Women International, a Christian charity that since 2009 has donated a million dresses to girls in 82 countries as a part of a mission to empower and educate women in need. She said church members or anyone going on mission to any developing country can contact Dress a Girl and take dresses to the girls. Photos of the presentations are cherished proof of delivery.

Basquil, a former teacher for 30 years in Bedford, Merrimack and Amherst, said she had been looking for a service project for her sewing students and was delighted when approached by some Bedford Girl Scouts who told her about the campaign. Soon, Basquil was mentoring volunteers including 89-year-old Kathryn Fleming of Merrimack and around a dozen more of her sewing students, girls from Lurgio Middle School and Peter Woodbury School in Bedford and the Microsociety Academy Charter School in Nashua, among others.

“It’s such a worthy cause,” said Basquil. “The earthquake in Haiti was in 2010 and it is still a very poor country but this program will ensure that every girl who gets one has a nice dress.”