Last year I visited the wonderful Girls Club of the LES and was incredibly impressed with the facility, directors and teachers. I discussed doing a project with the sewing class, led by Mary Adams, and this July we launched the Patchwork Project during their Summer Camp session.
My assistant Chloe and I met with the girls ( aged 9 to 13 ) and I told them a little about my own design history, the Made With Love Project and working with Angelique Kidjo. The girls watched Angelique's music videos and I told them about her Batonga Foundation for girls their age in Africa and about her work as an Ambassador for Unicef.
The project was to design patch work fabric, in African wax print , at least 5 yds, for a costume for Angelique to perform in, so that girls in the US would be part of her mission for girls in Africa. It was a great 3 days, the girls were very inspired and in addition to the fabric created different accessories for Angelique.
The project culminated with a visit from Angelique to the Girls Club of the LES. With her were friends from Benin Africa, sculptor Romuald Hazoumé and his family. In addition to visiting the sewing group, we visited all the classrooms and became involved in the various art and music projects as well as an amazing visit to the Girls Club of the LES very own Planetarium !
Mary Jane Marcasiano July 29, 2015
First steps are sharing with girls the sketch for Angelique's costume and cutting the fabric into strips and then squares.
Chloe Krumel, Made With Love's Head of Customer Service and patchwork expert showing how to assemble the pieces.
Camille , one of the girls creating a special head piece for Angelique .
The strips start to come together . Girl Power with Made With Love Bracelets !
We've got Fabric !
Mary Adams helping one of the girls create a head wrap for Angelique.
Detail of the fabric , lots of different African wax prints collected from Africa, Holland and New York !
Some of the girls created bags for Ageliques. Great for someone who is always on the road touring.
Angelique with her guests from Benin Africa, Romuald and Delphine Hazoumé and their children Oskar, Shadé and Olaïtan
More goodies for Angelique !
Angelique is in the house !
Yeah Team !!!!!
Visiting the Music Lab
Romuald Hazoumé and his son in the Airstream recording studio
Visiting the Art Room
Congratulations to our friend and collaborator Angelique Kidjo on her second Grammy Award.
Angelique accepted the award on the behalf of the strength of African women wearing our Made With Love Bracelets and an outfit designed by our founder Mary Jane Marcasiano. We applaud Angelique's work as an artist and an ambassador for women globally.
See our collaboration with Angelique on our Batonga Bracelets http://www.madewithloveproject.com/batonga-foundation.html
Check out Batonga's wonderful work with girls education in Africa.
Exciting news from Africa! We've launched the new Made With Love Bracelet with a Gold Heart Charm to celebrate Maison Rose
In December 2010 I made my first trip to West Africa accompanied by my husband, photographer Ralph Gibson. We were joining our friends Annie Ohayon and Claude Grunitzky, who were working with the 2010 edition of The Festival of the Black Arts, taking place in Dakar that month. Our mutual friend West African singer, Batonga Founder and Unicef Ambassador, Angelique Kidjo would be performing at the festival wearing costumes I designed for her, so all signs pointed towards going to Dakar.
After more than three years working long distance with ASAO and Empire des Enfants, I was full of anticipation to see Empire’s facilities, meet the children and staff and get to know Senegal. It turned out to be one of the most exciting and rewarding trips of my lifetime.
After a very short flight from JFK, a little over five hours, Annie, Ralph and I arrived in Dakar before sunrise; it was all of our first times in Dakar. The city and the festival was amazing, we saw music and dance from all over Africa as well as global Black culture. While it was all new, I felt completely at home in Dakar and the connections I had made working there, even though up till now were long distance, allowed me to feel a part of the culture immediately.
I met Amy (Sow Awa) who coordinates operations for ASAO in Dakar. We had been communicating by phone and email for the past few years and it was great to meet this lovely young woman in person. Ralph, Annie and I joined Amy on our second day in Dakar and visited Empire des Enfants. Seeing for the first time the façade of the building in reality, an image I had been looking at and using graphically on our hang tags and website, was a wonderful surprise. When its large blue gates were opened and I was greeted warmly by the guard, I looked up to one of the buildings and saw my name painted on its white walls in blue paint, I knew then that what I had felt arriving in Dakar was true, that I did have some roots in this culture.
We sat and spoke with Empire’s director MadameAnta Mbow, a beautiful, elegant and motherly woman. Watching her nonstop interaction with the children, her constant attention and contact with them, I could see that this woman’s love and the dedication of the staff and volunteers, was literally “caring” these children back to normalcy after the traumas they suffered on the streets.
It was a feeling I was to have again later that day when we traveled with Amy about a half hour by car to a neighborhood called Medina Gounass, located in the poor outskirts of Dakar.
Recently I had started working with ASAO on purchasing bracelets made by Maison Rose, a home sheltering adolescents, young single mothers and women who have been subject to physical and psychological violence.
Amidst the dust and dirty streets of Medina Gounass, Amy, Ralph and I arrived at an oasis, the beautiful pink house that houses Maison Rose. Danielle Hueges and the staff, women and children who reside there greeted us. We toured the house and saw the lovely private rooms for the women residents and their children. The stories of the women and children we met were extremely tough but once again I was encouraged by the quality of care they were receiving and the commitment and love shown by Danielle and her staff.
Made With Love's Maison Rose Stretch Bracelets are made by the residents and the women of the surrounding community, providing them with a source of income. I had an idea to generate more work for them by developing a bracelet that could be sold to raise funds for Angelique Kidjo’s Batonga Foundation. I had brought with me a Swarovski crystal butterfly (the butterfly is Batonga’s symbol) and a diagram my friend Judith Medwin, beader extraordinaire, had made for attaching the butterfly to our recycled rubber bracelets. I sat down with the staff and the woman who leads the atelier, explained the idea and the Batonga Bracelets were born. Our first shipment arrived in New York only a few weeks after this meeting.
The rest of the trip was filled with sights and sounds of Dakar – some of the highlights were Angelique’s outdoor concert in Dakar’s Place de Obelisk and shopping for African print fabrics with Angelique in Dakar’s three big open air markets, I was in fabric heaven!
Coming back home I was determined to keep selling the products that support Empire des Enfants and Maison Rose and to launch the new Batonga Bracelet to support Angelique’s foundation. With this goal as our priority we have re-designed and re-launched our website to provide more product and more information on the NGOs they support. You can read more about Maison Rose and Empire des Enfants in our new blogs, written and translated from French by our intern Melissa Beight and coming soon we will add a blog from Batonga founder Angelique Kidjo.
Thank you for supporting Made With Love products and please spread to word to your friends.
Mary Jane Marcasiano
Made With Love has been working with Maison Rose in Dakar, Senegal since 2010. Our Maison Rose Stretch Bracelets provide a source of income for their residents as well as for the women of the surrounding community.
We have just received the annual report from Unies Vers’Elle Senegal, the NGO that funds and runs Maison Rose and we’d like to share with you some of this information demonstrating the important work they are doing in this region.
In 2008 Unies Vers’Elle founded Maison Rose, a home in Senegal that shelters adolescents, young single mothers, children and women who have been victim to physical and psychological violence. Located in one of the poorest slums of Dakar, Maison Rose gives care and psychological support, guiding the women out of the streets and into the professional workforce. Since there is so much poverty and suffering amongst the women in Medina Gounass, the slum where Maison Rose is located, the demand for help is very high. Maison Rose works with external sources, governmental and non-governmental organizations and different state services.
Maison Rose works to help women through protection, prevention and integration into the workforce. They protect the women by giving them nutritional support, building the relationship between mother and child, serving as a day care for children, helping with social and legal services and providing psychological and educative support through many different pre-professional workshops. In addition, they hold meetings of awareness about abuse, health problems, community tolerance and acceptance. Through these socio-educative activities, girls are able to plan their lives based on their own interests and desires while starting over on a new path. Micro-workshops also help them learn about certain professions that correspond to different areas of employment.
In 2010, Maison Rose expanded and opened their doors to the adolescents of the neighborhood. They started small economic projects that helped the girls begin to build micro-credit and a professional future. In addition, they supported 120 girls, adolescents, young single mothers, and women. 38 women and 14 children were housed at Maison Rose, and 67 women and adolescents were supported in day care. On average, 30 people were helped at 2 weekly literacy work shops in French-Wolof, theater, drawing and expression, sewing and embroidery, hygiene and health, community involvement and sports.
Here are two examples of a child and a young women who were directed to Maison Rose for help :
“M” - a nine year old girl
“M”s family entrusted her to a family in Dakar. As she was not in school and was illegal (she was born in Guinea), she served many months as a servant in a house. While there, she was raped by a farm worker and the family that was housing her did not want to keep her. She was brought to Maison Rose by the organization SOS Enfants Disparus. Immediately, Maison Rose collaborated with AFJ to set up judicial support and supported her during the 8 different times that she had to return to court. Each of the visits inflicted a psychological strain on “M” but support was given to her each time by the team at Maison Rose. Her rapist was sentenced to 10 years in prison and her guardian decided, in agreement with the AEMO Services, to let her stay at Maison Rose. Her resident status has been taken care of and she is now studying in a private class.
“ M.K.” - a 25-year-old woman
Raised by her aunt and uncle, ”M.K.” returned to her mother at the age of 20. Her mother worked as a prostitute and she quickly followed the same path. Often sharing the same clients, she and her mother were in a situation of perpetual conflict. Already a mother to one child, ”M.K.” found herself pregnant again. In response to her pregnancy, her mother threw her out. She was directed by the Social Services of the Department of Social Action to Maison Rose where she had a baby girl. Providing care for her has been difficult because of her past life as a prostitute and her attraction to money. But through the support of the Maison Rose team, she has decided to voluntarily isolate herself from this life style which has allowed her to think about her future in a more serene way. She attends different workshops and now wants to do training in the field of catering.
The work of Maison Rose is extremely important because they are providing alternatives to girls who are subject to unhealthy mental and physical conditions and the promiscuity of their milieu. They lack guidance from their parents and are left on the streets to try and make a living on their own. Maison Rose is working on the department and national level to ensure the permanence of their actions. They use a team made up of paid workers and volunteers to make sure that these young women are given the proper tools to succeed in the world.
Springside School, an all girls preparatory school in Philadelphia, Pa, decided to take a group of students to Senegal in June 2010. Stephanie Kasten, one of the French teachers at Springside, chose to bring a select group of students to this very different French speaking country. The trip would combine a French language immersion and a partnership between two schools in Senegal, Lycée JFK in Dakar and Ndioum in Guede Chantier. The students would be housed with families in the both the city and rural communities, where no one spoke English.
Before the trip, Melissa Beight, one of the students who would be going to Senegal in the spring, found the Made With Love bracelets in a store in Nantucket. After reading about the project, she learned that the proceeds of the bracelets would benefit a boys home in Senegal. This home, known as Empire des Enfants, is located in Dakar and serves to help boys from the streets become educated and return to their families. The girls at Springside sold the Made With Love recycled rubber bracelets, which allowed them to pay for the girls from Lycée JFK in Dakar to join them in Ndioum, located on the border of Mauritania. Many of the girls from JFK had never left Dakar. Therefore, the proceeds helped the boys at Empire des Enfants, the women of Djenné, Mali, West Africa, and the girls from JFK.
While the girls built many friendships in Senegal, they brought their new Senegalese friends to Empire des Enfants with them. Both the students from JFK and Springside were eager to visit Empire des Enfants. The money from the bracelets that they had bought had afforded the boys clothes, school supplies, and a place to sleep. Not only were the girls from Springside wearing the bracelets, but their new friends from Senegal were wearing them as well. Eager to make contact with the children, the girls brought the boys deflated beach balls. These beach balls had been used and signed by the 1st graders at Springside. The students began to blow up the beach balls. Instantly, the room was alive. Boys started jumping everywhere, each one carrying at least two beach balls. Their faces lit up while they threw and kicked around the balls with each other.
The girls were overwhelmed with joy, almost as much as the boys were to see them. They sang songs together until they had to leave. The girls left, amazed at how such a small act had such a large impact. The girls from Springside continue to sell the bracelets at school and hope to go back to Senegal in 2012.
Melissa Beight, the president of Fashion Club at Springside School, held a fashion show to benefit the Batonga Foundation. The fashion show was 70s inspired and included live performances from students at Springside and Chestnut Hill Academy. All of the models were students from both of these schools.
The Batonga Foundation supports secondary and higher education for girls in Africa. They provide girls with the tools they need to succeed in school and in life—that means everything from school supplies to mentoring and health education. They believe that if we give these girls a chance to excel they can take the lead in changing Africa. Girls with more schooling participate in greater numbers in the labor force and earn more for their families and society. Created by Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award winning West African Singer, songwriter, and UNICEF Ambassador, Batonga works with existing NGOs at the country level who have experience in girls’ education. Individual girls are chosen to receive support so that priority goes to the most disadvantaged populations in the served countries.
Springside’s Fashion Club chose the Batonga Foundation to be the recipient of the night’s funds because they saw the need for girls to help other girls around the world. In order to increase their funds, they sold t-shirts for $15, along with the Maison Rose wrap bracelets and the Batonga bracelets. In addition, they sold tickets for $10 and collected donations at the door.
The event was held at Springside School on March 19th, 2011. With over 300 attendees, the show began at 7:30pm with a projection of Angelique Kidjo's new music video. Following a dance performance by a Springside alum and a song sang by two current Chestnut Hill Academy students, the fashion show began. It featured 70s inspired rompers, dresses, jeans, and jewelry. After a successful show, the event came to a close with two singers from Springside and the Chestnut Hill Academy Acapella group. In total, Rock the Runway raised almost $8,000. Most of the proceeds went to the Batonga Foundation and some went to the Cygnet Foundation for the Maison Rose bracelets. The girls from Springside hope to help the Batonga Foundation in the future and continue their partnership with the girls in Africa.
Here are some tips from Melissa Beight on how she organized the Batonga Foundation benefit at Springside School. We hope that the Springside students experience inspires other young people to get involved and fundraise for organizations supporting women and children globally.
1. Select an NGO that is meaningful to you and create a concept for a fundraising event or sale
- Maison Rose
- The Batonga Foundation
- L'Empire des Enfants
2. Contact Made With Love to explain your event and order products to sell
3. Select a date
4. Select a venue
5. Start selling products to fundraise for the event
- Recycled Rubber Bracelets for L'Empire des Enfants
- Beaded Wrap Bracelet for Maison Rose
- Recycled Rubber Bracelets with Swarovski Butterfly for Batonga
6. Send out sponsor letters
7. Sell tickets/invitations
8. Have fun at your event!
Once you choose an NGO to support, get in contact with Made With Love. They will help you learn more about their mission and which NGOs they work with to see which one best fits your interests and event concept. In addition, you can order some of the Made With Love products to sell before and at your event. At our event, in order to maximize our fundraising, we sold entrance tickets and created t-shirts to sell as well as the Batonga and Maison Rose bracelets.
Start planning ahead of time. I came up and met with Mary Jane in January, which is when the idea was brought up about doing a fundraiser for Batonga. I was then able to attend a Batonga event in NYC where I learned much more about the organization itself. When I returned to Philadelphia, I started planning ahead for the event in March and made a calendar and a list of important tasks that needed to be taken care of before the event.
Organize a group of people that can help and divide up the work. Our Fashion Club spearheaded the fashion show at Springside and we divided up into different "committees" so that each one had a different job the night of the event. In addition, two weeks before the event, each group scheduled a time-slot every week to sell the Batonga bracelets, Maison Rose bracelets, and t-shirts.
Start advertising early. At the Batonga event in New York, I received an information sheet about Batonga and its mission. To ensure that everyone knew the mission of Batonga, I turned this information into huge posters which we hung around the school advertising the event. This was important because it let people in the community learn more about the event and its significance. At my school, the main attraction to the event was the idea of girls helping girls and people became really excited about coming out and supporting the show.
Sell t-shirts, bracelets, and tickets in advance. As you read earlier, we sold the different bracelets and we made t-shirts with the Batonga logo on them and sold them for $15. In the two weeks before the event, many people wore their t-shirts around school which brought attention to the event.
Send out sponsor letters 3 or 4 weeks prior to the event. Send them to relatives, friends, and people who you know would be interested in supporting the cause. Many people are aware of the Made With Love Project, but there are also many people who do not, so in addition to raising money, it helps bring more awareness to the different organizations and more people to the event.
Be creative, your event can be a concert , a fashion show , a performance or simply a sale. If you want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!