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Little Dresses for Africa

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Fund Raising & Fund Distribution, Gift Distribution, Human Services

Mission: To plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy through the distribution of handmade little dresses, made of pillowcases by loving hands from all over the world.

Results: well over 8 million dresses and "britches for boys", a Distribution Center in Malawi, two primary schools, 10 wells, 2 school master's houses, a soccer field and a girls dormitory for 100 girls rescued from early childhood marriages. We also support projects ongoing with our short term trips twice a year since 2008.

Target demographics: clothe little children who are in need and instill self-esteem. "We're not just sending dresses, we're sending hope!"

Direct beneficiaries per year: 8 million dresses throughout the world, opened our 2nd school, and built a dormitory for 100 girls rescued from child marraiges.

Geographic areas served: distributed over 8 million dresses in 87 countries across the world, built 2 schools, 6 wells...

Programs: clothing, teaching lessons on sanitation, clean water, nutrition, building primary schools, providing clean water.

Community Stories

52 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Bonnie31

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started working for LDFA as my first steps into the "mission" field. I had no experience in anything before. The moment I stepped through the door and was called SISTER!!! I felt right at home. Watching this organization grow over the years has been such a blessing to me, not to mention the millions of lives it has touched and changed for the better. Talk about changing the world one life at a time, Little Dresses is truly love in motion. In addition to the base mission of sending little dresses (hope) - Wells are being put in that can save entire villages, hostels for girls sold into child marriages that are free now and can go to school and be safe. Schools for children to attend close to home and community centers to worship together. I got to experience this love first hand on the ground when I went to Africa in August of 2016. After years of opening boxes and packing boxes and sending boxes of dresses all over the world., watching a little girls face change instantly to joy of having something that shows them love and worthiness once you put the dress on - it brought me to tears! We fed people, helped with mobile medical clinic, support the local orphanage, open wells, teach vacation bible school, distribute buckets of hope to widows and distribute bibles and SO much more. this is truly a life changing/ world changing organization and I am humbled to be a part of it.

3 Patti Artiste

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely LOVE Little Dresses for Africa!! I've been sewing again for a purpose. To spread hope, that these beautiful children are so worth it!! Thank You! Bless up!

Bonnie31

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started working for LDFA as my first steps into the "mission" field. I had no experience in anything before. The moment I stepped through the door and was called SISTER!!! I felt right at home. Watching this organization grow over the years has been such a blessing to me, not to mention the millions of lives it has touched and changed for the better. Talk about changing the world one life at a time, Little Dresses is truly love in motion. In addition to the base mission of sending little dresses (hope) - Wells are being put in that can save entire villages, hostels for girls sold into child marriages that are free now and can go to school and be safe. Schools for children to attend close to home and community centers to worship together. I got to experience this love first hand on the ground when I went to Africa in August of 2016. After years of opening boxes and packing boxes and sending boxes of dresses all over the world., watching a little girls face change instantly to joy of having something that shows them love and worthiness once you put the dress on - it brought me to tears! We fed people, helped with mobile medical clinic, support the local orphanage, open wells, teach vacation bible school, distribute buckets of hope to widows and distribute bibles and SO much more.
this is truly a life changing/ world changing organization and I am humbled to be a part of it.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I never "missioned' before I was introduced to Little Dresses. I don't sew but I started helping by sorting those precious dresses sewn with so much love by women all over the world. I also open these boxes...and I see more and more that this is not just a mission for those that receive the dresses but also for those that provided the dresses. The stories and notes sent with the packages, along with the care put into the details. I found myself praying over these dresses as I opened them, blessing the givers and the receivers. that was 7 years ago. I then got the chance to go to Africa to see this love first hand. The first dress I put on a little girl who did not speak my language, who was not sure of a white woman giving her something so pretty, brought me to tears - the God giving pure love all around was overwhelming! Little Dresses is a TRUE charity in all meanings of the word. They provide clean water in the form of wells, community centers, schools, hostels, britches for boys, sani pads for the girls, bibles and most of all Hope! Everything they get goes back into the organization to further this mission. Thank you

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1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My story wow, it began during one of my class reunions a few years ago. I kept seeing Rachel O’Neil pictured in Africa somewhere I did not know where on a fellow classmate of mine Facebook page. I had to ask if she Knew Rachel and she affirmed she did and told me what Rachel had been doing with an organization she founded called Little Dresses for Africa. I told her I was a friend of Rachel and not seen her for years and would like to help in some way. I ask her to let Rachel know. Rachel said I would not call well I called immediately. Rachel and I started were we left off great friends. She gave me a few assignments to help with the coming Big Dinner. I went to a few meetings and learned more and more how LDFA was affecting peoples lives around the world. I saw the pictures of the faces of the little girls in Africa and it just touch my heart. As time went by I let Rachel know I would like to go on one of her trips. At first there was no room. Someone dropped out and Rachel called and said do you want to go to Malawi? I said yes I do. Fast forward to Malawi the trip was a life changer for me in many ways. I look at what has been accomplished in just 10 years. The number of children touched by LDFA in the Name ofGod is phenomenal. The adults touched is unbelievable and I mean those volunteering as well as those helped. I know when I held a small baby my first day there or put a pair of shorts on a boy my heart was rejoicing in the Glory of God. What I really have learned so far is One person can make a difference. From just wanting to get a thousand dresses made and send them to Africa after making a trip there Rachel by the Grace of God has a movement an organization that seeks to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. Giving all Glory to Our God. Yes one person can make a difference with the guidance of our God. I am proud to call Rachel my friend and plan on volunteering anytime and anyway I can Praise God in The Name Of Jesus.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started sewing for LDFA in 2010 after I sent up a prayer to St Theresa to use my hands . The very next day I received a catalog in the mail ( Nancy’s Notions) with a little insert that fell out of a little girl in rags asking I’d I could spare an hour to make her a new dress. My prayers were answered quickly. I also mail dresses to REALHOPEFORHAITI.org, and with local docs going on medical mission trips to Panama, Honduras, Mexico, etc. I have sewn dresses/ shorts/ drawstring purses/ nanny aprons, totaling over 4,500 since I started. I get great joy mentoring high schoolers for their senior projects, to sew dresses for LDFA.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a fabulous charity that truly helps the most vulnerable and often forgotten children in this world. I love this charity because you get to create something that you know will make a difference in someone’s life. I found this charity through my former church and knew immediately that this was something I wanted to be part of. We have so much here and it breaks my heart to think that there are children in this day and age who are living without adequate clothing, clean water or an education. I love making these dresses and sani-pads so that these girls know that they are not forgotten and cared about. It’s a great reminder for me at how blessed I am and to be grateful for the simple things that we tend to take for granted. This organization not only provides dresses, sanitary pads and boy’s britches, they work tiressly to raise money so they can provide other services like digging wells, building an education dorm room so these children can have hope in an education and a sewing center where people there can earn a living. This, by far, is my favorite charity. I try to sew a dress each week and have donated money and a sewing machine. I like that you can be as creative as you want. I now sew dresses with cap sleeves and wrap skirts for the older girls. I’m always inspired by seeing the dresses that others have made. They have a great community of sewers around the world who have great advice, tips and support.

Johan S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was reunited with Rachel, the founder of Little Dresses for Africa, at a Soroptimist meeting in September 2007. I was friends with her older sister in High School. She came to tell us about her new organization and her goal of sending 1000 dresses to those less fortunate. A lofty goal for her, because she did not sew!
In 2017 she returned with a 10 year anniversary update. Over 8 million dresses have been sent to over 83 countries. The dresses are the ambassadors of the program. Relationships are developed and if the Chief of the village will donate land a well can be built. LDFA has built 15 wells, on the last trip to Malawi, May 2018, the team got to witness the opening of four of these wells. WATER saves lives and allows the children to attend school. Little Dresses has also built two primary schools and soon will open a secondary school.
EDUCATION changes the future. COMMUNITY sustains the village.
A new distribution warehouse ,at least four times bigger than the old one, has been built to improve and expand distribution to those that need it most. A sewing center was built on the same property. Malawian women will learn to sew and will learn finances 101 to help them start their own businesses. Malawian men are hired for all of the construction projects.
Her teams that visits twice a year, come to hand out dresses and other needed items donated from around the world. The team visits villages to check on the wells and schools and to spend time with the people in the villages.
One of the most loving things achomplished by LDFA, was the building of a dormitory for 110 young girls rescued from childhood marriage. Rachel's relationship with Senior Chief Kachindamoto is precious and powerful. Senior Chief is responsible to 900,000 people in Dedza Malawi. Well respected and a strong leader, she put an end to childhood marriage in Malawi. The request for the dormitory came from her in November 2016, in May of 2017, it was opened.
So from the lofty goal of 1000 dresses, an army of people from all over the world have stood behind and beside Rachel to achomplish her goal of planting in the heart of little girls that they are worthy, and so much more. Blessed to be part of such a wonderful organization!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LDFA provides not only badly needed material items to impoverished children, but more importantly sends dignity, hope, and love to the recipients. I am humbled to sew dresses for the beautiful girls. As I sew I pray for these girls as well as the countless volunteers who work so diligently to spread the Word and bless the children. Additionally, LDFA has built a school and dug wells to provide for the long term needs of the community. Their outreach is tremendous and a glowing example of servitude.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Little dresses is a beacon of hope, my orphans and vulnerable kids from Sierra Leone West Africa has been blessed by the generosity of little dresses for Africa

4

Donor

Rating: 5

The least of these, that is what Little Dresses for Africa is all about. Real help to real people who are at the bottom of society. Sending a strong message that girls of all ages are worthy of love and a chance to thrive by building local schools, installing clean water wells, providing school uniforms, building a hostel for girls rescued from child marriages, buckets of supplies for widows, supplying cloth sanitary pads for girls to help manage their menstrual cycles and stay in school, and of course little dresses for young girls to know they are cared about.

Rachel, the founder of LDFA, is diligent in accessing the needs of the villages she visits each year. She answers those needs with solutions that make real change possible for both the current and future generations.

Sewing, donating, and volunteering takes place in homes across our country and the world to send a message of hope from one home to another. Everyone, no matter who you are can participate in some way to make a difference. Instead of waiting on the “big” institutions to step up, this organization uses “little” people to help out the “little” people.

We have been blessed to be part of this charity for many years now and are beyond grateful to know our money and supplies are getting directly to those who need them. Sending clean water, education, clothing, and the idea that we are all worthy.

~Kevin and Rachel

Comments ( 1 )

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littledressesforafrica 06/04/2018

Thank you for your kind remarks. You have been a real blessing to Little Dresses for Africa and to the children, especially through your donations to provide clean water for so many through Little Dresses for Africa! Love and thanks, Rachel O'Neill, Founder

3 Marcia Elena Sehn da F.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Venho aqui para contar um pouco da minha satisfação em fazer parte da Little Dresses For África.
Tudo iniciou através de uma reportagem que assisti em Junho/2015 sobre esse lindo projeto. Eu particularmente não sabia costurar roupas, então fui atrás de moldes e fiz meu primeiro vestido ! Nossa, nunca imaginei que um vestido pudesse transformar minha vida, não consegui mais parar de costurar!
Em 2015 abracei o projeto sozinha contando com auxílio financeiro de meu marido, para compra de material e despacho dos vestidos para o destino -Africa. No ano de 2016 consegui ampliar a produção e recebi ajuda de amigos com o material, em 2017 a rede cresceu ainda mais, tive duas ajudantes também na costura e assim continuo até hoje!
Esse é um resumo da minha experiência, mas o mais importante de tudo é que sou outra pessoa desde meu primeiro vestido! Sou muito mais feliz, principalmente porque sei que estou auxiliando na construção de um mundo melhor, mais fraterno, generoso, onde o amor e a paz transcendam todas as barreiras!
Sou movida pelo amor, e o amor é exatamente o que a Little Dresses for África representa!!!
Marcia E. s. da Fonseca - Brasil

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

Hello, my name is Marcia and I'm from Brazil. I'm part of Little Dresses From Africa since 2015. Back then I didn't know how to sew but when I learn how to do it, it brought me so much joy. In December I sent those first dresses and to my joy and surprise, I received photos of children wearing them. In 2016 my relatives and friends helped me with fabrics and I was able to sewn even more dresses and shorts, which were sent in December. Nowadays I've got more than 100 pieces sewn which I intend to send in December to help to bring happiness to the children! I'm really grateful and proud of being part of this beautiful project that helps to spread love to the world!
P.S: please forgive me if there are any writing mistakes :)

4 Anni W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We love Little Dresses for Africa! This past winter, my 14-year-old daughter read the book Kisses from Katie, about a girl who went to Africa to do mission work. Parts of the book greatly distressed my daughter, and she came to me very upset about the child soldiers, prostitution, and child trafficking mentioned. She wondered what she, a simple, Midwestern, 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy could do. I had been planning to teach her to sew anyway, so I proposed she learn to sew dresses for LDFA. She went on their website, learned about their heart for girls, and became very excited to begin. Here she is with her first dress. She now has the goal of sewing at least one dress every month for LDFA. After she has sewn a few, we will send them along.

LDFA is so much more than just a sewing project. We have been reading about them for several months now on Facebook, and we are so impressed with their heart for these girls and young women. The idea of being able to help prevent girls from being trafficked ignited a passion in my daughter. We love LDFA!

3 Robin B.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I retired from working as an office assistant in a high school counseling center, I knew that I needed to find a purpose for my life moving forward. My 83 year old mother suggested that I get back to sewing, which she taught me to do when I was young but had gotten away from as life got busier and busier. She shared the pattern she had been using for some little dresses that she had been making. Hmmm... could this be my "thing"?, I wondered. YUP! Little Dresses for Africa has provided a purpose for me in a way that has far exceeded my expectations. When I started, I bought some cute, cheery fabric and posted photos of the finished dresses on Facebook for friends to see. Before I knew it, those friends were offering not only emotional support for the cause but financial support as well. Some have donated money to me to purchase fabric, others have cleaned out their craft and sewing rooms and/or shopped yard sales and have given me thread, ribbons, fabric, and all sorts of trim. In the past 6 months, I have been blessed to create and send in 110 little dresses... I put pockets on each and tuck a little length of ribbon or a pair of panties in each so they not only get the dress but a little surprise when they put their hands in the pocket the first time. Because of the generosity of my friends, I have started sending the money I would otherwise spend on supplies with my dresses, to help offset the cost for international shipping/distribution.
What I know to be true is that this cause has truly changed my life. I have followed Rachel's blog, learning more about the work Little Dresses for Africa does and it has made me all the more committed to the cause. THEY ARE CHANGING LIVES ALL OVER THE WORLD! These beautiful children, both boys and girls, are valuable and worthy, and I can help them simply by doing what I love to do... sewing. My prayer and goal is to some day accompany a group to a location, doing what ever needs doing certainly, but specifically to slip my dresses over the heads of some sweet little girls. God is good and angels are everywhere! Little Dresses for Africa is full of them!

1 Rachel Alexander O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've never experienced more great people doing things in the name of love. I am so honored to be part of LDFA. "We're not just sending dresses, we're sending HOPE!"

1 Cheryl A.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Little Dresses for Africa since early 2009. I have organized many sewing days where groups of friends got together to make dresses and I have lost count of how many dresses I personally have made. In June 2009, I was blessed to travel to Ethiopia and Kenya with LDFA. That trip changed my life! To be able to see first hand the impact that these dresses make, not only for the little girls that receive them, but for the entire community who experience the love and hope of Jesus. I also support LDFA through fundraising efforts whenever possible by donating money and collecting items such as school supplies for the school they built in Malawi. This is an organization that is truly committed to the people they serve. Not only do they provide clothing for the children, they have also done big projects like building a school and digging wells to provide for the long term needs of the community. I look forward to making another trip to Africa with LDFA in the near future.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sewing for this charity gets me out of bed each day. I learned how to sew 5 years ago when I was expecting my 1st baby. When I lost the baby and found I would never be a mother, just seeing my sewing machine and all the children’s patterns broke my heart. I am now 37 with severe fibromyalgia pain that keeps me in bed a lot of the week. I had always dreamed of returning to Uganda to volunteer and felt useless that I couldn’t even leave my house most of the time. I came across Little Dresses for Africa on Facebook on one of those days I was stuck in bed & feeling sorry for myself & I was inspired to dig out the cute special patterns and fabrics I had hidden away. Sometimes a week or two will go by before I’m able to sew, but the fact that I’m able to do something for someone else makes me feel like my time is valuable again. I pray for the little one who will get the dress or shorts while I sew and it brings me closer to God. I’m not sure if the woman who started this charity is aware how life changing the charity can be for the people who create the dresses & shorts. I feel so blessed from the charity she’s created and am so glad my work is much appreciated. I love that this charity works two-fold. I feel happy making the dresses & somewhere out there, girls feel happy wearing my dresses.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been following Little Dresses for Africa for while now on Face Book and applauding the fine work they do. I have been stockpiling fabrics and trims and watching You Tube videos on how to make the dresses so I can help. I love seeing the photos of the little girls wearing their pretty dresses!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A friend introduced me to Little Dresses - she'd been sewing for them and then chose to join them for a delivery trip to Malawi. I shared this information with another friend and she began sewing pads for the girls. This non-profit fills in many gaps for the children.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have sewn dresses, britches and personal hygiene items for LDFA. Was blessed
last August 2016 to travel with LDFA to Malawi. To see the blessings of God
delivered through this nonprofit organization was such an honor. Bringing little girls
dresses, building wells to make clean water available, building schools, and so much more.
Awesome way of sharing to bring blessing to others.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 16 year old niece and I learned how to make these dresses last week. They are very simple yet provide so much dignity for the girls who receive them. We are making more to send. It is a great way to make a huge impact in the lives of those less fortunate.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This wonderful charity is spreading God’s love and sending hope to many, many places. The little dresses , britches and other items are lovingly hand made by amazing volunteers! Many of the clothing items are works of art . These beautiful ladies and gentlemen, are far more blessed than the children who receive them!
LDFA has built schools, dug wells, supported the efforts to abolish child marriage, and more .
I am honored to volunteer here.
God bless you !