Good morning and welcome to create with Heidi. I'm Heidi Kaisand, owner of hidden chicks studio in Conrad, Iowa, and lover of all things creative. Each week here on create with Heidi we like to cover topics that educate and inspire you about how people are being creative, whether it's quilting, scrapbooking, food, wool, or just hanging out with others who seem to have their creative Mojo groovin in all the right directions, we are excited to share these things with you. My quote for today is helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person. And today's guest is Rachel and Rachel, I might not say your last name correctly. Is it since Senator,
Rachel's senator, and she is the president of hope for women interact in international? And which? I'm going to say I'm not sure if the right word is that you handle the the dress a girl around the world movement? And am I saying that right? Would that be? Okay? And you know, Rachel, when I learned about your business, which is actually based in Iowa, and I did not know that it's so fits with the people who are listening to our show and our customers at Tennant chicks studio, because we have so many people who are generous, generously giving of their time and their sewing skills, whether it is making masks or making dresses, and I thought it would be great to learn more about what it is that you do with a dress a girl around the world program. So would you tell us a little bit more about that program?
Yes, we started dressing around the world about 11 years ago. And we first started we saw, I would go to Uganda. And I would see these little girls and ragged dresses. And I just wanted to take every one of them to a store and buy him a new dress. And that gets a little expensive. Yeah. So we, I came home and I found a pattern for pillowcase dresses. And so my sister and I took these pillowcases to Uganda, we taught the women how to make the dresses, and came back home and we're like, Alright, good, we got that done. Now they can make dresses for their own girls Well, when you put something out there that you've been doing, and it catches people's eye, that's not the end. So since that time, we have volunteers all over the world, making dresses, and they're not just going to Uganda, they're going all over the world. If you live in Australia, and you're making dresses, and you find a need there to give the girls and since then we've also graduated from pillowcases, we no longer use that we've gotten a little more fancy. And we use hundred percent or a COTTON BLEND and try to make it so just gives the girls dignity and and we try to make each dress so beautiful. Like we were making it for our daughters or nieces or granddaughters. Sometimes people say, well, they're poor. Anything is better than nothing. But we say no, that's not right. They deserve a beautiful dress, just like my daughter deserves a beautiful dress. So we've really kind of come a long way since we started 11 years ago, we've distributed well over 2 million dresses, wow, at some countries. And we have chapters, you can go to our website, wrestle girl around the world calm. And you'll see our patterns that we love. You'll see we have ambassadors around the world that you can connect with someone near us. So like I'm in Forest City, Iowa, which is the headquarters, but you might live in Florida. So you want to connect with somebody for
sure. And and how many countries did you say that your have been sending dresses to
at some and so and I'm assuming that even includes does that include the United States? I mean, some of the dresses probably stay right here, as well as go to other countries. And it just yeah, it got speaks volumes. When you start when you said 2 million, you know, dresses to think how many children don't have, I'm gonna say basic needs met it with simple things like clothing. Yeah. And I bet in your travels, you see that all the time?
Yes, we do. And what we like to do is we can carry the dresses. And so, this year, of course, with COVID, it's been a little difficult because no one's going on mission trips. But when we do, then we hand carry, and then we'll have like a dress a girl day, and we set it up with the local partners. And they bring the girls in, and we just put that dress on, whatever they're wearing. And to see the transformation of some Shiloh girl in a torn dress, and she gets this brand new dress, and we tell her that she's special that God loves her, that somebody made that dress just for her. And just to see her shine is just a transformation. Amazing,
I would bet. And you know, it's, there's so many things just about as you're describing that, you know that I know how I feel. If I get a new clothing item, and you wear it for the first time, you're like, Oh, this feels good. And I you know, I'm feeling bright and special today. And, you know, I think we take for granted the fact that we have so many choices of what to wear and things. Well, Rachel, we're off to a great start. We're going to take a quick commercial break, and we'll be back right after this break. Welcome back to create with Heidi, this is Heidi Kaisand, of Henan chick studio in Conrad, Iowa. And I'm talking with my guest, Rachel Sen, who is the president of hope for women international and director of dress girl around the world program. And just before the break, Rachel was telling us about the 2 million dresses and did you say you've been doing this for 11 years, Rachel?
Yes, October is our anniversary month. And so it's 11 years this month, since we started giving out since we gave out our first dress.
That is wonderful. And and one of the things that you mentioned, was that because of COVID and people not going on mission trips, you know, how how has that affected? what you're doing? And you know, what changes are you making to your program to continue the efforts?
Well, we have made a lot of math for hospitals and restaurants and different places. So we used our skills that way. But there's an organization called Operation Christmas Child and they do shoe box gifts that go all over the world. Yes. And they have, they're still going on. And they have the means to get them to across the world. So they've been asking us for dresses for that shubhra box ministry. So that's where all of our dresses have gone. In fact, right now my motorhome sitting in the driveway with over 1000 dresses. And we're going to deliver those to an Operation Christmas Child in one in Kentucky and one in North Carolina. And so that's where they've all been going this year. And we're just so blessed to partner with them. And they're saying that their donations are down because people just don't have the money. So we're just blessing each other by giving them dresses. And that helps us that helps them. Absolutely,
absolutely. And if as people are listening to this, and if they say oh, I want to you know, make a dress, I give us a little more information that you touched on it that maybe there's information on your website.
Yes, if they go to the website, dress a girl around the world calm. You'll see dresses that we love and we actually have our own pattern, but you don't have to use that we also suggest the simplicity I think there's a McCall's pattern on there. It's got to be a simple dress that can go over the girl's head without zipper but closure. And so we would give suggestions on the website of what type of dress that would be. Now there's some that don't show pocket. And we found that the girls love pockets, they put their little treasures in the pocket. So even if the pattern doesn't call for a pocket, we have pocket pads that people can add pockets to the dresses.
Isn't that fun? And yeah, who doesn't love a pocket to put something in? Yeah, I think that that makes sense. That makes sense. Do you have any idea how many volunteers have helped you make those? Those dresses?
Oh, my, probably even harder. Yeah.
I went to Portugal. A year ago, the whole country got together for a dress girl event. And it was incredible. And you saw dress a girl, billboards all over the country. Thousands of people came. And they set up. I think they had like 250 sewing machines, they set up at this big camp, the town paid for everything, the electricity, they set up everything. People came and sold that day and to hear the stories. One lady told me about. She was in her 80s. And well, her son actually told me, she would call him kind of wine and oh, I'm lonely. I don't. You don't come and see me enough and all this. And he said he didn't hear from her for about three weeks. He's like, oh, what she up to? He went to her house. She had discovered gresik girl, and she was sewing. She had dresses all over else. And now he said she only called me to get more fabric.
Isn't that fun? Isn't that fun?
Yeah. And yeah, just see that we're not just changing the lives of the girls that were going for. But those of us who are sewing lives are changing. People have a purpose now. And I mean, who in their 80s? You know, she thought her purpose was over? And it's just beginning.
Yes. And I and I think that is so true that, that it's not just about the recipient, but it is about the person who is is doing the work? And do you in your travels? And in all of your years of doing this? Do you get the opportunity to see some of these girls more than once? And to get to know them? Or are you often just simply meeting them once? Being able to give them a dress? And then you know, because of your travels? You go other places? I mean, or do you? Do you form relationships with these with these young women?
It varies. Like in Uganda, hope for women is in Uganda. So we have, we sponsor women there. And so we go there every year, check on the women. And then of course the girls are there and, and we'll see somebody that we gave a dress to maybe five, six years ago, she's still wearing that dress. And it's kind of fun. So, of course, we will read give, if we have the opportunity, and people will come up and say I remember when you came to my village and you gave me a dress and how it changed how I felt about myself. You know, you just can't put $1
You know, I'm sure you can't. Well, we're gonna take a quick commercial break. And we'll be back right after this. Welcome back. And we're having a great conversation with Rachel from hope for women and dress a girl around the world program. And Rachel before the break, we were talking about, you know, getting to you know, maybe see some of the recipients more than once in the end, you talked about the the hope for women. So hope for women is explained that just tell us what that is, in comparison to the dress a girl around the world program.
Okay, yeah, hope for women is actually came first before aggressive girl. And we sponsor women in business in Uganda. And so what we do is we find a sponsor. And for $36 a month that sponsor sponsors that woman for one year, and that gets her started on her business. And then at the end of the year, we have a graduation ceremony. So we're there with all the politicians from around the area come and everybody comes to honor the women and we give them certificates. They wear pink graduation, hats and, and assist the day of celebration. And last time we were there, one of the politicians got up and said when you raise the level of women, you raise the level of the whole country. So that's how we've been working in Uganda. We will go to other places like Romania and will come along side in the Gypsy villages, or the Rome I guess. We're called and then we'll come alongside of them and maybe help them start a sewing center so they have a place for the women Gather that women can learn skills outside their home, and to earn money to help their families.
And in our all the businesses that these women are starting, are they sewing related? No. So what? What kinds of
businesses might be like, okay, one lady made like doughnut holes, I guess is the closest thing I can come to seeing it, we saw her. We came in, we visited businesses, she was selling beside the road, these doughnut holes, she had the plastic gloves and was doing everything that she was supposed to do. Now the incomes about $1 a day, if you make $2 a day, that's pretty good. So when we stopped? And I asked her, if you sell all of these doughnut holes today, how much money will you make? And it was equivalent to 50? US dollars? Wow. Yeah. So we just see set success of women really want to earn money. And our our dropout rate is like, almost zero, unless they're really sick or something. They hang in there, because they know they're going to be successful.
In I have always heard that. Programs like this, that come in and help them build a skill, or start a business, whatever, you know, are so much better and stronger. Because then they take ownership in Yeah, in that and pride, all sorts of different words that come to my mind, rather than simply being given a handout.
Right? Yes, that's right. And so although we do gift them with the funds, initially, sure, after that, after that year, that they're on their own, and they've saved up their money and, and have invested and, and we had a walk for women a couple years ago in Uganda, and there's over 1000 women in the walk. And as we're walking through the town, women would run up to me, like when we'd go past the bank, I have money in that bank, and they was so proud for the first time in their lives, they might be 60 years old, the first time they've ever had a bank account. Mm
hm. And, right, and that has to give them such fulfillment. I mean, again, trying to think of words that, you know, that they that they have worth, that they maybe didn't have before, whether that's monetary or not, it could also mean that it's just that they know they are capable of doing of doing things. And, and that has to help their community immensely to not just themselves.
You know, just as, as you said that the politician said, lift up the women and what was that lift up the women and lift up the country? The whole country? Yeah.
And I think that is so true. When when anybody learns a skill that, you know, that they can take that, take it away, take away from that. Lots of good, good things for them. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, are there any stories in particular that jumped out at you of just like those moments where you knew that this, you know, you've obviously been doing this a long time where, but where you're just so glad you're you're doing this?
Well, every day, every day, I'm so glad I'm doing this, I get emails from people daily, saying how the program has changed their lives, either a social worker, or someone who's been a recipient. And then we get letters from the women in Uganda who are saying how, when they came to us, and started up in business, they, they were so poor, now they can pay for their children's or grandchildren's school fees, and, and they're saving up to buy a home. I mean, every day, I just thank God that I can be a part of something like this.
That is awesome. As you look towards, you know, the next few months, and then, you know, the next year, obviously, the the COVID pandemic. We're not, we're not quite through it yet. And, you know, we're not quite sure how winner is gonna take it on a spin for us. You know, what do you What kinds of things do you have planned in the next few months to be able to keep doing this, this work?
Oh, well, we just stay in front of the people and let them know what's happening. We put out a newsletter every month, and tell them about our different partners. We have partners like in Uganda, that we're in Communication with all the time they're doing the work there, we can wire the money to them. And then they write back and give us a report of how that money was spent and how each woman every was distributed. And so we have good communication with our partners. Today's the best day to be living in as far as media, and everything so we can communicate in seconds, we're talking to Uganda. And, you know, it's not like the old days where you had to do a wire or something. So we just have great hope for the future. We hope that we can continue doing what we're doing that is pandemic, whatever it is, we're ready, we're ready to go again, and and to visit with the women and the girls around the world.
Well, I certainly know that our listeners, my customers, are going to be interested in this. And I encourage anyone who has the time and energy to help to visit your website at dress a girl around the world.com to learn more about how they can help in your efforts. Because I do think that every every young girl should have that new dress and feel feel special and to know that somebody else is thinking about them. And I think it goes back to that original quote that I said is that, you know, maybe one person cannot change the world, but it could change the world for one person. And yes, and that is is so important is that we don't have to think we're going to change everything but we can do a little bit and that makes a difference. So I encourage everybody to visit hidden chicks studio in Conrad or online at Henan chicks studio.com to find everything you need to know about quilting and all things creative. We're open Monday through Friday 10 to five and Saturday 10 to three and until next week. Be creative