By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — A popular fundraiser returns Saturday, Aug. 3, to help a group of Rwandan women who sew and weave to support themselves and their families.
The Mom Prom is a night of dancing and fun for women only, where they dress in the fashions and accessories that were all the rage in past decades.
The event will be from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Malone Elks Lodge in Malone with deejay music by Double Dutch Entertainment.
Marcy Bright, who is coordinating the event, said 55 women attended last year and raised about $2,000.
“My goal is to have 100 people this year and to raise $3,500,” she said.
Guests can represent whatever decade they want, so some might twist their way out of the ‘50s with ponytails, saddle shoes and bobby sox. Others might sway to the sounds of the ‘60s in a tie-dye T-shirt and beaded necklaces. Some could decide to “Get Physical” in workout wear or a “Flashdance”-inspired outfit of a sweatshirt with a torn neckline and leg warmers.
Tickets for Mom Prom are $20, and a table of eight entitles those guests to a free raffle ticket for baskets of cheer and items the Rwandan women make, such as baskets, bags and a colorful quilt.
The prom supports Ubushobozi, a training program that teaches marketable skills like sewing and basket weaving to orphaned girls and young women who are the head of their households.
They are then able to earn a living in a country where formal education for them ends at age 12.
Ubushobozi was started in 2008 when Bright and Jeanne Siporin of Bangor spent a volunteer vacation in Rwanda and wanted to help girls with limited futures.
“I’ve been involved in education my whole career, and I see these young ladies so hungry to learn,” Bright said. “But there were no programs for them and no future.”
After watching young Americans take educational opportunities for granted, “it’s rewarding for me to see the women so hungry to learn,” she said.
There are a dozen young women ages 12 to 19 now enrolled in the Ubushobozi program.
Students earn between $10 and $22 a week, depending in their skill and use the money to support themselves and relatives.
Each receives meals, free health insurance and computer training at the program’s home.
“The older women and girls in the project formed a cooperative, which is huge in many African countries, and they are recognized in all of Rwanda,” Siporin said in an email.
“The cooperative opened the shop in the house Ubushobozi rents” in the village of Musanze at the foot of the Virunga Mountains.
It is these mountains where Diane Fossey did her work with gorillas and where busloads of international travelers visit while gorilla trekking in the region, she said.
They stop at the Ubhshobozi house, visit with the girls and women while they shop, and the girls dance and sing for them, Siporin said.
Bright hopes the Mom Prom will have higher even attendance this year. Judging from the response she had after the last one held in September, things look promising.
“Some people didn’t know what Mom Prom was, but someone put it up on Facebook last year, and I started hearing from people who said they’d want to come if we had another one,” she said.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org
For Mom Prom tickets or for more information, call Marcy Bright at 521-0396. Bags made by the women in the Rwanda program can be purchased for $15 to $25 through Marcy Bright at 529-6325 or Jeanne Siporain at email@example.com.