Local woman sews dresses for girls in Africa

| August 21, 2017

Irene Krall has made hundreds of dresses for children in Africa through a program started in Michigan called Little Dresses for Africa.

COSHOCTON – Irene Krall sat down one morning to watch a morning news program, never knowing that what she saw would change her life. Rachel O’Neill, founder of Little Dresses for Africa, appeared on the show and talked about the overwhelming need for clothing for children in Africa, especially girls. O’Neill, who had gone to Africa to celebrate her 50th birthday, was overcome with emotion when she saw how poor the small villages of Africa really are. She decided to do something about it and founded an organization that sends dresses and other clothing to children in Africa.

“Something in me said I have to do this,” said Krall.

Krall has sewn her whole life, making dresses and curtains, but she knew this was an opportunity to use her talent to positively impact children across the world. After visiting the organization’s website, littledressesforafrica.org, Krall began buying supplies to start making dresses. At first, she made pillow dresses, but says they were too flimsy, so she started making cotton dresses.

“We’re doing this for someone who has nothing, so it needs to be perfect,” she said.

While Krall was having bloodwork done at Coshocton Hospital, she ran into an old friend. They started talking and Krall told her about her new project. Her friend became interested in the project and, between the two of them, they have sent hundreds of dresses to the organization’s headquarters in Michigan.

“This has become my passion, helping children,” she said.

The dresses must be sewn and have ties instead of buttons or zippers due to the fact that there is no way to fix popped buttons or broken zippers once shipped to Africa. Krall uses old fabrics she has saved, curtains, shirts, and bits of fabric to create the dresses. Each dress has its own special touch which may be a bit of curtain lace around the bottom, a pocket, or a beautiful applique added to the dress.

In addition to dresses, the organization has also drilled a well in the village of Malawi and started a school and community center in the village. They also have a program called britches for boys as well as a sanitary pads program for young girls who may drop out of school when they start having monthly periods because they are bullied for something beyond their control. The sanitary pads are made of four layers of flannel and two layers of towels or other soft padding.

“Everything she (O’Neill) does gives little girls hope,” said Krall. “To know they are loved and they have value. The dresses go as little ambassadors to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy.”

Although O’Neill has gone to Africa multiple times since the organization was founded in 2008, Krall doubts she will be able to ever go.

“I’m content to be on this side doing whatever I can here,” she said.

People who would like to help Krall can donate fabric or make financial donations to help defray costs of materials and shipping. Others who would like to start sewing dresses or make a donation of any kind can call Krall at 740-545-6269.

Krall will be offering a class on sewing dresses for Little Dresses for Africa at Mercantile on Main on Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. – noon. Unfortunately, the class size has been filled but Krall said she would be willing to offer classes in other venues if the interest is there. She is also happy to help anyone who has a sewing machine but doesn’t know how to get started.

“I’m helping them realize there are people with great needs beyond what we see here,” she said. “These are God’s children too. I’m glad to share what I have because God’s been good to me. I’m happy to work with people and small groups.”

Krall said she hopes more people take interest in the organization and finds some way to help others in need.

“We all should just be aware of the needs of other people,” she said. “When are we going to stop being such self-centered people and look at the needs of others? I just wish I could help more people realize there are other people around them who have needs greater than their own.”

For more information on Little Dresses for Africa, visit their website listed above or their Facebook page.

Tags: ,

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

Comments are closed.