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4Love Nonprofit Empowers Women in Panama

4Love Nonprofit Empowers Women in Panama

Spring 2014

“I read a book called Half the Sky that ignited something inside of me. I knew that I wanted to do something to empower women in developing countries. I hoped that one day my idea would come to fruition.”

“In 2011, I moved to Panama. I took a leap of faith, left a job that I loved and followed God’s calling for my life.”

“One day I was sitting in a local church where I was surrounded by indigenous Ngöbe–Buglé women. I was admiring their dresses, called nagua, which use layering of different colors to form a pattern. I was inspired and started sketching ideas for a clothing line that would become 4Love.”

“Getting Panamanian women on the team was a process. They are usually seen as the homemakers, and a majority of women don’t have the opportunity to work to contribute to their family. But now I am employing five women, and each one receives fair trade wages and education. Teaching them a trade creates a ripple effect that impacts their children.”

“I rent a little house on the outskirts of Boquete. I painted the walls hot pink and blue to create an atmosphere that was happy and inviting. I have a sewing room where the women have everything they need to create the embellishments that are added to the dresses. There is also a classroom where I run my nonprofit, Sowing Seeds of Love. I have a little library and play area set up for the children so while their mothers work, they can learn to read.”

“One of the best moments is when we teach the women how to write their names. The hanging tag of each dress has the signature of whoever made the embellishment, and often the women — who are in their late 20s — are writing their names for the first time.”

“Sometimes I will call my mom with tears of joy because I can’t believe this is my life. My motivation is love, and I get to experience that every day. That’s the greatest success of all.”

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"With each page that I read in “Half the Sky,” I knew that I wanted to find a way to empower women," says Parry. "I wanted to give women in developing countries a greater voice so they can make decisions that benefit them and their family."

"The local women in Boquette wear a dress called the nagua that is authentic to their tribe," Parry explains. "It consists of layering and forming a pattern with bright colors."

"The intricate details and the bright colors sparked something inside of me," says Parry. "I just started sketching ideas for a clothing line."

"The first piece of clothing I did was a jersey-cotton maxi dress, just something I had in my closet," she says. "I needed to know if this layering of different fabrics would work before writing my business plan and putting this thing into action."

"The nagua is something that has been done for a long time, passed down from generation to generation" Parry says. "It's what they wear all the time; even their daughters and babies wear the nagua."

"I wanted to design something that western women would want to wear and feel beautiful in, and that would somehow tie two completely different cultures together," says Parry.