Summer Dresses Sew Seeds of Hope in Tanzania

Keeping kids off the streets with a needle and thread.

Cofounders Lia and Jessica wearing Sewing Seeds dresses. (Photo c/o Lia Armstrong)
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

In 2009, college student Lia Armstrong went to Tanzania to teach HIV education. During that trip, she was shocked to see the amount of children living alone on the streets. Many of the kids, she says, "were as young as eight years old."

Lia was in the villages around Arusha near the Kenyan border. Arusha is a tourist area and also has a high population of street children. Lia explains that many families can't afford to provide all of their children with an education and end up sending their oldest into town to find work. When the children can't find jobs, they often fall into a life of deep poverty and violence.

Lia and her friend Jessica Hoover wanted to help but they "wanted to do it from a preventative aspect."

Back in the U.S., Lia and Jessica started Sewing Seeds, an organization that empowers mothers to provide for their families by sewing dresses made of beautiful Tanzanian fabrics.

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Lily of Sewing Seeds in Tanzania models one of the dresses. (Photo c/o Lia Armstrong)

Lia explains, "If women have the opportunity to work, hopefully they will be able to afford an education for their kids and there will be less of a chance of them turning to the streets."

The profits made from the dresses go back to the women in Tanzania, and each month, after the company expenses are paid, Lia says, funds go to "a few kids in the village who need an educational sponsorship."

Lia says each of the women has expressed how much they love Sewing Seeds, and she hopes to grow the organization to reach more mothers in need.

The dresses and accessories cost $30 or less.

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