A fashion show with a difference takes place tonight in Donegal Town with wedding dresses from across the decades on display in aid of Rwanda.
The event, which takes place at 8pm in the Abbey Hotel, has been organised by Esther Russell and friends.
She told the Donegal Democrat how the initiative came about and what it hopes to achieve.
“I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Rwanda for two weeks in February. During my stay I came across a wonderful lady called Claudine who oversees the work of the Mother’s Union in the Anglican Diocese of Shyogwe.
“They have so many projects that benefit the people from a tailoring school teaching sewing skills to enable self employment, as well as carpentry, welding, leather and upholstery workshops.
“At ‘grass roots’ level in the villages in groups of 10 families across denominations, they meet to decide how to help each other, whether by learning soap making, or nutrition for their children, how to farm more productively or raise animals. Really whatever their needs the Mother’s Union will try to enable to help them and facilitate their requirements.”
Esther was particularly struck by Claudine’s obvious love and enthusiasm for her work. “She told me she has a job she loves getting up in the morning to go to. She knows every group she is responsible for and visits them regularly.
“She has wonderful plans and a dream she would like to fulfill for her community is the setting up of a wedding outfitters where folk can come and hire their wedding dresses.
“Weddings are expensive occasions and no more so when your first thought of the day is ‘What am I going to feed my family today with’. But, like us, Rwandans also want their day in church before their friends and family and blessed by God.”
Esther remembered attending a Wedding Dress show in Enniskillen a few years ago and thought it would be an appropriate way to raise a few euros to set Claudine’s dream in motion.
“Claudine took me to a shop in Giterama town centre that the Mother’s Union already hires. There were a number of sewing machines and knitting machines where they produce school uniforms five months of the year. However, they still have to pay the rent the rest of the year and it would be a great place for their wedding oufitters premises.”
Esther came up with the idea of the unique fashion show which will take place tonight.
All those taking part are volunteers, local women from the area, “some of whom can still get into their dresses” will be modelling styles from the 1960’s upwards.
Some of the dresses belong to local clergy wives and even Mary Good, the wife of the anglican bishop of Derry and Raphoe, will be taking part.
Esther thanks all those who have helped, the women as well as the many local businesses that have supported the project. “We are very grateful to them,” she said.
“We would love your support for a very worthwhile cause, so please join us for this very special evening at the Abbey Hotel tonight,” she concluded.