Local AKAs creating ‘Little Dresses for Africa’


Each weekend, members of the Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority gather at the Ivy Support Center located at 3515 Dolfield Road from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. for The Sewing Circle. The goal of The Sewing Circle is to create dresses from pillowcases in support of Little Dresses for Africa.

They will be taking their creations to the AKA’s 67th Boule, which will be held in Atlanta, GA July 9 -16, 2016. AKA is the world’s largest and oldest sorority for predominantly African-American college-educated women.

More than 20,000 members of AKA are expected to attend the biennial conference which will focus on service projects, such as Little Dresses for Africa. A non-profit 501c3 Christian organization, Little Dresses for Africa provides relief to vulnerable children throughout the continent of Africa and beyond. Volunteers from all over the world join together to make little dresses out of pillowcases or other simple patterns.

“We hope every little girl gets a beautiful dress to call her own,” said Ann Barnes-Mobley, who is chairing the effort for Epsilon Omega, a Baltimore Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. “Every little girl deserves a nice, beautiful dress. We have discovered that we have many sorors who love to sew. The national goal is to collect 29,000 dresses to bring to the Boule. The goal of our local chapter was to create 300 dresses, but we have surpassed that. During the Sewing Circle, sewing machines are set-up, refreshments are served, and we sew the dresses.”

According to Barnes-Mobley, other supporters of the endeavor included Digital Harbor High School and Target.

“We started working on the dresses in April,” she said. “To date we have about 325 dresses. Some people donated money, while others donated material. It is truly a chapter effort. We are also elated that we will also able to purchase 60 pairs of shorts for little boys in Africa.”

According to Barnes-Mobley, the items will be sent to villages in Tanzania, South Africa, and Liberia. Claudette Egerton-Swain is also a member of the Epsilon Omega Chapter.

“To see these dresses come from a pillowcase, and devised into a wonderful dress takes you back to your childhood,” said Egerton-Swain who is a retired educator. “To work with the ties and buttons reminds me of the simple things in life. Our parents and grandparents made us little things. A lot of them made used extra fabric to create something beautiful just for you. I am very excited about this project and watching it come to fruition. It’s a wonderful way to reach across the waters to our children.”

She added, “It’s something about creating something with your hands that gives you great enjoyment,” she said. “I call myself the ‘quality control specialist’. I size the dresses so that they can be small, large, and extra-large. It is a regular assembly line. Some thread, some iron, and some do the pinning. Everyone steps into the role they are comfortable with. Whatever you can do, you bring it to the table, and it is used. We are sisters working together to create a masterpiece for our children. We made each dress as if we were making it for our own daughter.”