Crafting in kind…

There’s a lot of very pretty dresses being made for little girls around the world, as part of the Dress a Girl Around the World project – a lot of talented & kind bloggers are signed up to participate, and I think there was a recent blurb about it in Sew Hip magazine. I was intrigued & thinking about getting involved, because I love the idea of making lovely clothes to give as gifts. But after some looking around, I wont be getting involved with this one…

My reasons?

The Dress a Girl Around the World project is run by a Christian charity called Hope 4 Kids International. I imagine they have all the very best intentions, but their extremely conservative, evangelical Statement of Faith makes worrying reading. I am a believer myself, but I’m not a fundamentalist & I hate proselytising of any kind. I couldn’t get involved with projects set up by organisation that believes “in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; the saved unto the resurrection of eternal life and the lost unto the resurrection of damnation and eternal punishment”. That’s just hideous.

I’m no expert on this, but I’ve got interested in this subject since I read John Paul Flintoff’s Sew Your Own recently. I’ve read around a bit &  come to the conclusion that gifts of charity given in kind (known as GIK) like this have significant negative impact. Giving away clothes (in spite of how lovely they are!) is not a great idea because:

  • It’s disempowering to people who might prefer to choose and make their own clothes, given the opportunity.
  • It undermines local businesses selling second-hand or locally made clothes.
  • It undermines skills and traditional crafts.
  • It can be culturally insensitive.

Here’s a blog post that addresses this subject with more insight and experience than I have:
Good intentions are not enough blog: 6 questions you should ask before donating goods overseas
So, if you have been making dresses for this project, I’d really urge you to rethink – perhaps a better way forward would be to sell the dresses yourself and send the cash instead…

15 thoughts on “Crafting in kind…

  1. I totally agree with you and I am with you on this, I am a believer too, I like to donate money, or all my things to a charity (that will sell them again to raise money) but whatever I think I would never thought that a christian charity would only help christian people…
    Thank you for being so brave and writing about what you think. Really made me think.

  2. I absolutely agree, with you and also nora who raises some interesting questions!

    If you teach a man to fish he will never be hungry, but if you give him a fish he will only have one meal.

  3. What a brilliant post Ali – it is all too easy to get swept away by the urge to contribute by usiong skills you love, but wise to pause and ponder. I agree with you on the heinous nature of the statement of intent – how any child can be eternally damned by a loving God, I do not know. Well done for a brave post that sits well beside all your wonderfully informative and creative posts – to take a reasoned and impassioned stance is a creative act in itself!

  4. Thanks Ali for pointing this out. I too had thought about getting involved but hadn’t quite got around to it. I’m so glad I read this post before going ahead. I had no idea about the organisations Statement of Faith. Like you I studiously avoid projects that are run with a very obvious religious agenda. Charity should not be dependant on faith.
    Well done for sticking your head above the parapet.

    1. Hi Linnhe, Thanks for the thoughtful comment – it was quite a tough post to write because lots of bloggers I ‘know’ are taking part and it felt a bit grumpy, but it’s important to think through these things, I feel. Ali x

  5. Hear, hear! I quite agree with you and well done for saying in public what you believe. I am sure there are many people who are of a like mind but choose to say nothing. Bravo!

    1. Thank you Barbie, that’s much appreciated. It’s a very difficult issue, especially when people have all the best intentions, but it’s important to think these things through properly. Ali x

  6. Well done you. Quite a brave post. And very thought inspiring. I too have problems with this sort of scheme, they run one from my son’s pre school at christmas where by you fill a shoe box with “gifts” for a child in a third world country. I always think, surely clean running water is more of a priority, and also are they christian to begin with? Do you have to belong to the church to get the gift? Etc etc. I think it reinforces our cultural stereotypes of the third world, and not necessarily addresses any of the problems. I way of appeasing people’s guilt at having so much when others have so little.

    1. Thanks FN, I really appreciate your supportive & thoughtful comment. It did feel quite brave (!), especially as some bloggers I ‘know’ are taking part, and I realise this sort of thing is done with all the best intentions, but it’s so important to think about the consequences.. Ali x

  7. Thank you for that post. It raises some very interesting points and raises even more questions about some of these causes. Very thought provoking and appreciated.

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