Madagascar is known for it’s beautiful geographical typography and the only place where many species of God’s creation dwell. If you have never been to Madagascar, your mind might be filled with images of rainforests, waterfalls, and lemurs.
At True Vineyard Ministries, our minds are filled with Madagascar’s people where 9 out of every 10 people live below the poverty line, surviving on less than $2 per day. We know, all too well, this country where 48% of the population is uneducated and under the age of 14. It is a staggering reality which forces many Malagasy people into crimes of desperation, often selling their own daughters into sex slavery. On the streets of Antananarivo, the capital city, live thousands of homeless street children, including prostitutes who are usually teenaged girls. It is a disturbing and harsh reality for much of Madagascar’s youth. This is the real Madagascar and the one, we at True Vineyard, believe matters most to the heart of God.
In 2010 True Vineyard Ministries began seeking Malagasy women to support through our fair trade store, Vineyard Marketplace. Unfortunately, it was a huge challenge to locate artisan cooperatives in Madagascar like those we found in other parts of Africa. The lack of these organized groups directed our path to the very crowded Andravoangy Market, in the heart of Antananarivo. This is where we met Tentely, a highly motivated and organized 28-year old seamstress and mother, with an eye for designing little girl’s smocked dresses. Tentely’s family, now along with 3 other families, create precious hand-smocked and embroidered dresses for Vineyard Marketplace.
On our earlier trips, we would purchase 15 or 20 dresses from Tentely, which was great, considering she normally sold 3 or 4 dresses on a “good” week. As her dresses became more popular among our customers, our orders have steadily grown. She is always happy and always grateful for this continuing partnership that has literally changed the life of four families.
Last year, our efforts focused on moving the Vineyard Marketplace to its current location and developing our online store. This meant having duplicate dresses of the same style in a variety of sizes. Through many coordinated efforts to translate phone calls and emails, we were able to place the first really large order for Tentely, preordering more than 200 dresses at one time. She met all of our high-quality expectations and again, just last month, we picked up an order of 330 new dresses!
Because of the divine introduction we had to this courageous girl with a genuine talent for business, we have witnessed Tentely empowered over the past several years. She has become a young woman full of energy and ideas for creating higher quality dresses for Vineyard Marketplace. Please consider supporting Tentely and True Vineyard Ministries through the purchase of one of these precious dresses for your favorite little princess. All styles and sizes now available online at vineyardmarketplace.org.