Thursday, September 29, 2011

UIS students & alumni take over 200 dresses to Africa during summer trip

A group of University of Illinois Springfield students and alumni helped take over 200 handmade dresses to children in Africa this summer. The trip was organized by the non-profit group Jump for Joel, which was started at UIS in 2005.

The students traveled to Gathiga Children’s Hope Home in Nairobi, Kenya where they handed out the dresses, helped build a shower for the children and lived with a host family.

“Each team member had one suitcase for their personal belongings and one suitcase for donations and different things we needed to take over,” said Amanda Cummins, sophomore biology major. “We were able to fit all the dresses into two big 50 pound suitcases.”

Cummins’ mother came up with the idea to make the dresses and have her daughter take them on the trip. The Cummins family, along with a group of volunteers from her hometown of Cedarville, Ill., helped to sew and design the dresses. In total, they made 280 dresses and 50 pairs of shorts for the boys living at the home.

“Most of the kids (in Kenya) have a few changes of clothes and they share the clothes,” said Cummins. “Everyone just kind of fends for themselves once it goes through the wash. A lot of the clothes are falling apart.”

UIS alum David Lasley has made the trip to Africa with Jump for Joel three times before, but seeing the conditions the children face never gets easier.

“The kids can’t afford clothes. They don’t have parents, they don’t have anyone to pay for that stuff, so they need help with basic things,” said Lasley.

The students who went on the trip are each sponsoring a child and some, like Cummins, plan to make a second trip to Africa soon. In the meantime, she plans to continue to collect items and send them to the children.

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