Annual fundraiser raises money for African communities

Little Dresses for Africa, a nonprofit relief organization, will hold its annual “The Big Dinner” fundraiser to raise $720,000 to bring clean water, a new primary school and a community center to 12 villages on Nov. 12.

The fundraiser will be a worldwide event in which every supporting city will hold its own “Big Dinner.” Here in Michigan, an LDFA dinner will be held at Metro City Church in Riverview.

Rachel O’Neill, founder of LDFA and a Michigan native, says each “Big Dinner” will be unique. O’Neill says supporters in some cities opted for painting parties, small dinner parties and holding the fundraiser in a hall. Regardless, 100 percent of the proceeds from each dinner are given to the mission.  

The organization was started in 2008 with the goal of sending 1,000 dresses to one African village. Per the LDFA, “We’re not just sending dresses, we’re sending hope.”

Since then, LDFA has delivered over 6 million little dresses and “britches for boys,” to 83 countries in and around Africa. With the efforts of collections and distributions from all over the world, Little Dresses for Africa visits orphanages, churches and communities. Volunteers share knowledge in nutrition, clean water and sanitation to the villagers.


At the Riverview event, a silent auction will be held for prizes including Disneyland and Kalahari tickets and authentic African figures. Special guest Senior Chief Theresa Kachindamoto of the Dedza District in the central region of Malawi will share her story with attendees.

O’Neill says she first came across chief Kachindamoto on the internet after she read about Kachindamoto’s efforts to end child marriages in Africa.

The Huffington Post reports in “How This Female Chief Broke Up 850 Child Marriages In Malawi” that Kachindamoto was sick of seeing young girls walking around villages with babies: “She decided to take a stand and made 50 of her sub-chiefs sign an agreement to end child marriage in her area of authority.”  

Per HuffPo, Kachindamoto told her sub-chiefs, “Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated.”

The people of Malawi gave O’Neill the African name “Anamoya” because it means life. Kachindamoto says they gave her that name because she brings life to the girls of the village.

Kachindamoto has saved over 1,244 girls from Malawi and other countries in Africa. O’Neill describes Kachindamoto as a “mover and a shaker in Malawi.

O’Neill says after reading more about the chief, she realized her mission aligned perfectly with the mission of LDFA, so she sent her an email. “When I got the email from Anamoya,” Kachindamoto says, “I was very happy to receive her email because she helped me a lot with the girls.”

O’Neill says, “Too often Americans say, ‘Oh I love Africa, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that,’ but when you get home you forget that or don’t follow through.”

Can't attend Saturday? On its website, LDFA will be collecting donations for the “Big Dinner” throughout the rest of the year. Volunteers can meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month in Brownstown, Michigan. Visit for more information.


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