More than a Uniform

Elise Hofer Derstine is co-author of What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World, a Global Fund for Children book. Part of the proceeds from each book sale supports The Global Fund for Children’s (GFC) grantmaking program, benefitting vulnerable children and youth worldwide. Total War Against AIDS Youth Foundation, featured in this post, is a GFC grantee partner.

Children in Uniform from Madaraka Community School

Just about anywhere in the world, you can find children wearing school uniforms.  Kids sitting in rows of desks, wearing pleated skirts or khaki pants, knee-socks or cotton dresses—wearing blue, purple, gray, or yellow.

You can easily spot the kids who attend the Madaraka Community School in Likoni, Kenya, because they wear a beautiful, vibrant pink. You’ll see them eating breakfast together before school starts, or at the end of the day playing in clusters of twos and threes.

For many of these children, and so many others throughout the world, a school uniform is a cherished and special outfit. Likoni is one of the poorest districts in the area surrounding Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city. Though Mombasa itself boasts a breathtaking coastline, with all the amenities and attractions of a top tourist destination, the aura of luxury quickly fades in Likoni.

In addition to the community’s daily struggle with poverty, HIV/AIDS is a significant issue. Despite Kenya’s national HIV prevalence rate of 6.3 percent, in Likoni the rate hovers around 16 percent. As a result, many children are orphaned or abandoned, left to live and work on the streets where they are at risk of exploitation and abuse.

But the children wearing pink are being cared for and protected. Total War Against AIDS Youth Foundation (TWAAYF), which runs the Madaraka Community School, is a youth-led community development organization that empowers orphaned children and youth through art and education.

At the school—one of three core programs at TWAAYF—children receive learning materials and a nutritious breakfast and lunch in addition to their lessons. Classes are taught by specially trained teachers with a curriculum that borrows from the Montessori model. Though the school asks parents and guardians to pay a small amount of money to support the program, no child is rejected because of an inability to pay.

And of course, each child gets a pink uniform. The children come from poor households, and many of them have lost loved ones to AIDS. But the uniforms show they have a place where they belong—a place where they can be nurtured and cared for, and where the future is bright.


Cultural Connections: Flowers Heads

As we visit many different cultures around the world, we begin to see connections across many cultures. You can see more of our cultural connections here.

The flower head fashion has been around for years and adorned by many different cultures.


1: Japanese geisha’s often wear flowers in their hair.

Tea visited Japan for our Fall 2009 Collection.

2: While, I am unaware of any tradition around wearing flowers in your hair in Korea, it certainly seems to be a popular trend in Korean Vogue. (see more images from Vogue Korea and Vogue Girl Korea on our Pinterest board)

Tea visited Korea for our Spring 2010 Collection.

3. Brazilian, Carmen Miranda adorned her turbans with fruit and flowers.

Tea visited Brazil for our Spring 2009 Collection.

4: In Mexico, women wear flowers in their hair for special occasions and celebrations. Here is an image of our style muse Frida Kahlo, who is always pictured with flowers in her hair.

Tea visited Mexico for our Fall 2011 Collection.

5. Traditional women in Hungary wear flower headpieces on their wedding day. Hungarian dancers also wear floral headpieces.

Tea visited Hungary for our Fall 2010 Collection.

6. In Bali, legong dancers wear floral head pieces. It is common to see Balinese women wearing flowers in their hair.

Tea visited Bali for our Spring 2012 Collection.

7: In Spain, Flamenco dancers often wear flowers in their hair.

Tea visited Spain for our Spring 2011 Collection.

8. Peruvian women wear Monteras, traditional hats. Modern day women often buy the hats at the market and decorate themselves with flowers.

Tea’s Fall 2007 collection was inspired by Peru.

Do you know any traditions around wearing flowers in your hair?

SPRING FASHION REPORT: FLOWER HEAD

What could be a more feminine look than adding some flowers to your hair?

flowers in hair fashion trend

From left to right, top to bottom: 1) Unknown 2) Elliot & Erick Jimenez for Material Girl 3) Agata Pospieszyńska 4) Unknown 5) Unknown 6) Edie Campbell

We were overwhelmed by all the great images for this post. It seems to be everywhere, and every images is more pretty than the next. Make sure to check out our Pinterest board to see all the other great floral hair pieces.

What do you think? Will you be adopting the flower-head style? Tell us in the comments section below.

Cultural Activity Printout: Sacred Monkey Forest

Looking to monkey-around this weekend? Our cultural activity printout will provide your little explorers with lots of fun!

Cultural Activity Printout

Download your sacred monkey forest cultural activity printout here: sacred monkey forest

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

February’s Coloring Contest Winner!

We were overwhelmed with submissions to our first ever Activity Book Photo contest! Thank you everyone for sharing your creativity with us.

This month’s winner is Topher McCord! We loved the bright orange color he used on our Balinese Mermaid Goddess. Topher will receive a $100 Tea Gift Certificate.

Cultural Activity Printout

Our honorable mentions include Jorden’s Gamelan (on left) and Noah’s Stubborn Dragon (on right).

Cultural Activity PrintoutsCultural Activity Printout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Browse all entries on our Flickr page.

Interested in entering the contest for next month? Take a picture of your child’s completed activity book picture and send it to us at blog@teacollection.com with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line.  We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate.  We’ll also post all honorable mentions on our blog page and all submissions will be posted on our Flickr page.

Download all of our activity book pages by visiting our cultural activity printouts blog tag.

Behind the Design: Tiger Jungle Tee

Behind the Design Wednesdays: Every week Tea writes about our designers’ inspiration for our current collection of clothing. Explore all of our Behind the Design posts.

bali jungle tiger boys shirt

For our Tiger Jungle Shirt, I imagined a time where the Balinese jungles were filled with tigers. I drew the design in a very primitive hand & then carved it out of a linoleum block to create a tribal look.

Sadly, in our time, we will never see even a single tiger in the Balinese forests. This is the only picture you will ever see of the Balinese Tiger. The last tiger in Bali was shot and killed in 1937 and the subspecies went extinct. The drawing below by Russian artist, Evgenia Barinova recapturing that sad event.

While this seems a little more somber than our regular “behind the design” posts, I feel its extremely important to teach our children to protect our fragile wildlife. There is still hope for the last of 3 subspecies of Tiger in Indonesia – the Sumatran Tiger. Their population is frightening small, estimated at less than 300 individuals. The best way to help is to pass this knowledge to our children and raise a generation of mindful, passionate little citizens who want to protect all the creatures of this beautiful planet.

“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.” – Jane Gooodall

National Geographic is currently running an amazing campaign, Cause an Uproar, to help with big cat conservation. They have a great kid’s section to get children involved in the conservation efforts.

How do you teach your little citizens about wildlife preservation? Share with us in the comments section below.

Celebrating What We Wear

Today we’re thrilled feature an interview with Maya Ajmera, the founder of The Global Fund for Children and co-author of What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World , a children’s book that uncovers significance and connections through global clothing.  A portion of the proceeds from each book sale supports The Global Fund for Children’s grantmaking program.

children's book

What inspired you to write a book about children’s clothing?

As a child of South Asian descent growing up in the US, I loved when we had dress up day at school. I would dress up in a Salwar Kameez from India—a long tunic with pants underneath. It was very colorful and fun, but it was also very different from the really nice Easter dresses that the other girls were wearing. Growing up in the South at that time, I didn’t know a lot of children who were different culturally. This book hits home for me—it explores and celebrates those differences.

school house children in Cambodia

Kindergarten students at the Self Help Community Center in Cambodia show off their new school uniforms.

How does the book relate to your work with The Global Fund for Children?

Throughout the world we support children in various circumstances, and even if the children are poor, they always have something nice to wear set aside. It could be a good pair of shoes, or a nice top, a school uniform—but it’s something that a child or family holds onto very dearly, often for celebrations.

I think about our work with indigenous groups in Guatemala and their traditional woven clothing. Or the Self Help Community Centre in Cambodia; these children are extremely poor, but they have brightly colored uniforms that they love—those uniforms mean a lot, and those colors mean a lot. It’s about dignity and identity.

Guatemalan Girl

This young Guatemalan girl wears a dress traditional to the indigenous Ixil Maya. A beneficiary of GFC grantee partner Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral y Multidisciplinario APPEDIBIMI, she is also featured on the back cover of What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World.

What do you hope children will get out of reading this book?

I hope children will recognize the many things they have in common in how they dress up. But I hope they also notice and enjoy the many differences in color and style. Everything from sports uniforms to beadwork to face paint—it’s all dressing up and it’s all fun.

What’s up next for Global Fund for Children Books?

We’re finishing up a book about global health called Healthy Kids. It explores the things all children need to be safe and healthy. And part of being healthy is the clothing you wear—clothing in many ways is about identity, but it also provides protection and helps you stay healthy!

Be sure to enter the “What We Wear” photo contest by submitting a photo of your child in their favorite outfit to globalfundforchildren@gmail.com for your chance to win a copy of the “What we Wear” book and a $100 Tea gift certificate. Find the official entry rules here: http://bit.ly/AAa1XB.