We have been swamped recently by enquiries from big-hearted brides wanting to donate their dresses overseas.
So we were thrilled when we got a different kind of email – from a reader in Buckinghamshire asking how she could collect pre-loved wedding dresses to help a family and community in Malawi.
Clare Clements sponsors the education of two young children in Malawi where, as she explained:
Their mother tells me that, because so few brides can afford to buy wedding dresses, there is a huge demand for dresses that can be hired out for the day instead. She has asked me to investigate the possibility of collecting donated wedding dresses in the UK and sending them to her in Malawi, so she can use them to start a small business and provide a better standard of living for herself and her children.
We loved this idea – and we knew you would too. Here’s how you can spread the love and make a difference, not only to another bride, but to a family and a whole community…
Joyce is a single mother with two children who lives near Mangochi, a town in the southern region of Malawi.
In an effort to create a better life for herself and her children, Joyce has started making bridal flower arrangements for friends and neighbours. Fresh flowers are prohibitively expensive, so her bouquets and assorted floral decorations are made using artificial flowers and a wide range of small baskets decorated with glossy paper ribbons to match the colour scheme chosen by the bride.
Through this work, she has seen how women cannot afford to buy a dress for their big day. She has identified a strong demand for beautiful white dresses and bridal accessories that can be hired out and shared around the community.
Setting up a bridal hire business would not only improve the standard of living for Joyce and her children, it would bring dignity and joy to local women on their wedding day, and impact on more women as the business expands and takes on staff.
Women of the world: Unite!
Like Joyce, many Malawian women are raising their children alone, with such families bearing the brunt of the poverty and lack of resources or opportunities in the country. Although this small, densely-populated country has improved in many ways in recent years, 3.4 million people still live in ‘extreme poverty’, 45% of children suffer from malnutrition, and it has one of the worst HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world.
Despite having a female president, women still have fewer rights, less access to education, and are much more vulnerable than men to disease, poverty and social exclusion.
How you can help
- White wedding dresses
- Veils and tiaras
- Shoes and jewellery
- Bridesmaid dresses
So don’t let your dream dress turn into Mrs Havisham in a box in the attic. Give it a new lease of life, let it become a globe-trotting celebrity and watch it do the job it was created to do for years to come!