Ada — Jan Long’s intermediate construction (sewing) class is showing compassion toward underprivileged children far away and learning some valuable career tools in the process.
Long, instructor in the Department of Family and Consumer Science at East Central University, is guiding her students in a project called “Dress a Girl Around the World,” in which the class, along with help from some volunteers, is creating dresses for girls around the world who are living in poverty. The mothers of the children say the dresses help protect their daughters from being taken and placed in the human trafficking trade.
The class has a goal of making 85 dresses by the first week of April.
“That is our goal, and I’m confident we’ll make it,” said Long. “In this class, our students learn to run a factory and learn how a production line works. At the same time, we’re doing a project which is benefiting someone else.”
Long learned about the project at a career technology conference in Oklahoma City in a presentation made by a high school teacher.
A critical component of the project is the label or patch sewn onto the front of the dresses. On this label are the words “Dress a Girl Around the World."
Comments from adult women in these developing countries are that these particular labels on the front of the dresses have stopped those involved in the slave trade from abducting the girls, according to Long. The label poses a sense of ownership to others, so the girls who wear these dresses are often avoided by the human traffickers.
Long plans to work on this project with her classes for the next few spring semesters.
“It’s important for women to help other women. We need to be sharing with developing countries,” Long said.