Athlete Shaquille O’Neal and fashion designer Whitney Port have geared up to join the UNIFORM cause to support children’s education in Liberia. The idea for UNIFORM came from Chid Liberty, the owner of Africa’s first fair trade apparel factory, Liberty and Justice. The project was created to get the company’s employees back to work and to get kids back in school after the Ebola crisis in 2014.
The cost of uniforms is often enough to keep children out of school. Many West African schools require students to wear uniforms, and this puts many kids out of luck for education.
For every shirt sold by UNIFORM, a uniform is donated to a child who cannot afford a needed uniform.
Port and O’Neal have shown their support for UNIFORM by designing and advocating for the products. O’Neal is spreading the word as a UNIFORM ambassador. Port is designing a graphic for a women’s muscle tank as a collaboration with her fashion line, Whitney Eve.
Because of these celebrities and many other contributors, many children can receive an education and new clothing. “It sounds so silly to us here, but if you can imagine, the average civil servant in Liberia makes 60 to 80 dollars a month,” Liberty said. “If you have five kids and all of them need a 10 dollar uniform to go to school, it is basically a month’s pay just to get your kids’ uniforms. So, it’s a super critical thing because if you don’t have a uniform, you simply can’t go to school.”
Not only does the clothing line promote education, but the clothes are also made of comfy material and are factory-direct products. UNIFORM sells black, white and gray shirts, and with the purchase of one product, the buyer receives a notebook, pencil and a photo of a child who received a school uniform. Since UNIFORM is factory-direct, the products are good quality and lower prices.
“The UNIFORM team is responding to Liberia’s post-Ebola challenges in a way that advances women’s rights and universal access to education for all children,” the UNIFORM website said. UNIFORM is made ethically in West Africa, so the clothing line provides jobs for over 300 people, 98 percent of whom are women. The factory in Monrovia, Liberia that manufactures the clothes was built with the goal to give impoverished local women fair employment. These women are given healthcare benefits as well as literacy classes.
UNIFORM’s goal is to sell enough clothing to get 50,000 kids in school by the end of the year. Liberty said that UNIFORM has currently helped 6,000 kids. With this goal in mind, the UNIFORM team is creating new items for the UNIFORM clothing line.“We’ll have our signature T-shirt, but we are working on all kinds of great products from oxfords to brief cases, all of them tying in with helping kids go to school,” Liberty said. Liberty is devoted to helping children go to school. To contribute to the cause and to help Liberty, go to uniform.is.
– Fallon Lineberger
Sources: Look to the Stars, Style Blazer, UNIFORM