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Help student Amelia travel to Tanzania to support Maasai widows

19-year-old art and design student, Amelia Haslett, needs donations to travel to Tanzania and bring female empowerment to Maasai women through the power of textile design and innovation.

Amelia, who is studying the foundation diploma in art and design at SGS College’s Stroud Campus, is hoping to fly out this July and will be operating with ‘Naserian’, a charity working for and with the local Maasai widows in Tanzania.

Speaking about the project, Amelia said:

“Using my existing knowledge and passion I aim to bring empowerment to vulnerable women in the Maasai Tribe, through textile design and innovation. As part of this process, I will need to travel to Tanzania in July and will be operating with ‘Naserian’, a charity working for and with the local Maasai widows in Tanzania. It was founded in 2010 in response to the needs of the women and was initially established in three villages. Naserian, which means ‘Grace of God’, in the Maasai language was named by the widows. It was registered as a charity in Tanzania during 2013 and is now active in ten villages, with over 700 widows currently benefitting.

“This project is not about modern-day materialistic obsession surrounding fashion, instead it uses fashion design as a form of cultural self-expression to create beautiful products which have meaning. I believe that fashion design can be used as a tool to convey great change.

“As well as my love for creative textiles design, I’m passionate about protecting female rights having previously campaigned and spoken at the United Nations in Geneva on this subject. I plan to use the personal skills I have, hoping it will create a new and different approach to solving these political problems, acting as a much-needed breath of fresh air. Equally I wish to show that campaigning for female equality does not always have to be about political debate and words on paper.

“Polygamy is practiced in the Maasai culture, consequently when a husband dies, he may leave behind a number of widows, meaning that their children are also left without male support. According to the Maasai tradition, in order to protect the widows, they are inherited by a male relative. It is vital that these communities understand, in some cases the widows may prefer to have independent lives, maintaining the care of their children and property themselves.

“Already, as a result of Naserian, the widows participate in a number of projects including: a goat herd, chickens, making & selling soap, candles and jewellery, they are also receiving training about their human rights and promoting an end to the horrific procedure of Female Genital Mutilation. Those of the women who have been trained, pass on their knowledge to the whole of the community. By helping the widows, everyone benefits.

“Female Empowerment through Fashion is an exciting, new incentive to help through the use of my existing textiles knowledge and designs. I will work with the widows, teaching them construction skills and embellishment techniques whilst embracing and merging their traditional dress with our own western trends. The goods produced will be sold online and in local markets surrounding their villages in Tanzania. The money generated will fund the education of girls, creating opportunity for equality and independence for these widows. Furthermore, with only natural fabrics mainly accessible to the tribe in Tanzania, the project will be an upcoming label which practises solely sustainable production in a currently environmentally harmful fashion world.

“In one village, there has been some basic training in running education for children, however this is the only education they receive as there is insufficient money to send them to school. Through carrying out this project using creative knowledge and the skills of simple garment design and construction, education will be passed on through the generations, constantly developing as fashion trends evolve, meaning it is a continually beneficial project to the Maasai People. It provides empowerment, income and education as well as a freedom of expression and creativity for all involved.

“Issues of inequality are often addressed in non-creative ways, I strongly believe we should be backing and celebrating creative projects aiming to achieve successful outcomes. I need to raise a minimum of £4000 in order to make this incredible project both feasible and successful. Please help by donating to my go fund me page.”

Click here to find out more and donate visit Amelia's go fund me page.