Calm before the SWAP-storm!
Calm before the SWAP-storm!

During the month of January, much of my time was spent sorting and folding clothes. No, not because of toddler + baby laundry (although some of it was), but because our home was the central drop-off location for women donating clothes for our third Gazelle Skirt clothing SWAP to benefit women in prison.

Our first SWAP event had about 50 participants. The second SWAP grew to about 75. This year we passed 100 participants and received over 3000 items of clothing! All of these items were then sorted and folded, and eventually made their way either to the prisons or into the SWAP and found new homes with happy fashionistas.

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SWAPpers!

In the process of sorting all these clothes I learned a few things:

1. Somehow a lot of you manage to wear white in Senegal – and keep it white! Very impressive, ladies. Very impressive. (Or maybe you brought white clothes here, realized they were unwearable and that the clothing SWAP was the perfect solution?)

2. Wrap dresses must be hard to fit or wear well because they are one of the most donated items.

3. The two cultures I now feel pretty confident I could identify by their clothes: Dutch and Lebanese.

4. Often in a bag of clothes I would find one or two items in a much smaller size and usually a bit outdated. Yup. As we get older, sometimes we have to say goodbye to those cute shorts we wore all through college. But hopefully you found a beautiful new item in the SWAP as a consolation upgrade. (I did!)

5. American clothes are the softest (dryers, I suppose) but Senegalese smell the best (thiouraye incense!).

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Look at all those clean stacks! So pretty.

Over 150,000cfa was raised through entry fees and donations to help offset the costs of transporting the clothing to women in prisons in Dakar, Rufisque and Thies. The funds were given to our guest of honor, Mme Ndeye Diouf, who has been volunteering in these prisons for nearly 15 years as an advocate for women who are estranged from their families and women from countries outside of Senegal and need help advancing their cases. (And she also happens to be my daughter’s Senegalese namesake.)

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A very big thank you to all the participants, vendors, organizers who volunteered and to NTM-SLT for the use of the conference room. Jeana, Christie, Candace, Nour, Polly, Danielle, Saoussan, Stina, Damaris, Josefina, Monica, Anne Marie, Marietou – thank you!

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SWAP organizers and helpers

Our vendors this year were wonderful, and we were very excited to host the launch for Bapribap’s new line for women (more info on WOLOVE Market‘s site soon!). Below you will find contact info for our vendors and details about their work.

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Bapribap’s new line for women launched at the SWAP!
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Three hours of non-stop SWAP action
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Original Gazelles
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Swappers and little swappers
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Our most popular section: wax print and Senegalese styles

Rama Diaw (Saint-Louis)
Clothing and accessories

Anne de la V. boutique
Clothing and accessories

WOLOVE Market
Clothing for adults and children, accessories, home goods and gourmet foods

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WOLOVE Market’s wares