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"Fashion and/as a waste" – How to give new life to clothes as well as to people – clients of Caritas, especially victims of human trafficking.

 

 

 
On the 20th August last, the STOP Human Trafficking project organised its 2nd awareness- raising event in Caritas‘ beautiful gardens at the heart of the old city of Bratislava.  Once again the event began with an unconventional fashion show which was followed by an auction. Caritas´ employees and volunteers of all sizes and ages,  modeled 16 outfits which were created from clothes and accessories donated to the Caritas´ Warehouse of Solidarity.’ 
 

 
The first such Caritas event took place in 2016 and was given the title of Fashion and/as Slavery, to draw attention to enslaved people working in the fashion industry worldwide. For this year´s event, our main inspiration was Pope Francis´ encyclical on the environment and human ecology Laudato Si.  Laudato Si teaches us that everything is interconnected; the ecological impact of our never-ending consumption as well as our lack of social consciousness in developing countries which contributes to making grounds for modern slavery conditions. The CARITAS awareness-raising event helped draw our attention to concerns about modern-day consumerism and the impact of the Fast Fashion industry. Of particular importance was the emphasis on understanding that the Fast fashion industry is sustained by workers who are modern-day slaves at the other end of the supply chain.  
Staying with last year’s theme,  we kept the idea of giving a second chance to clothes. This year we wanted to show how we can give a new opportunity to people who have not been so fortunate in their lives and experienced really hard times as modern slaves.
 

 
The discussion which followed enabled the introduction of guests working in shelters with victims of Human Trafficking. An important part of the event was a photo exhibition of 12 photographs entitled “Life after Trafficking, ‘‘ portraying the individual stories of victims.
People attending the fashion show enjoyed a welcome drink, refreshments and chill-out music in a friendly, pleasant atmosphere. A children’s playground was also available, which added to families‘ enjoyment of the event. The eco-friendly vibe was enhanced by the fact that all the decorations were made from recycled plastic bottles! We encouraged people to help give the clothes a second chance, and thus contribute to sustainable and equitable/ fair fashion as well as support victims of Human Trafficking. Apart from the auction, guests could give voluntary contributions for clothes from “tree branch hangers” and buy home-made elder-flower syrup/cordial which we prepared together with our clients.
The proceeds from this years event came to €1,176 euros. This fund will be used for the reintegration of victims of human trafficking through supporting workshops focused on occupational therapy. An example of such occupational therapy is the production of handmade handbags and other products using recycled materials.This year we presented new, hand-made backpacks which were created by a newly established workshop in a shelter for victims of Human Trafficking. This production was started thanks to last year´s proceeds which were used to buy equipment and sewing materials for this workshop.
 

 
In conclusion, our event was attended by approximately 130 people and the feedback was really positive. People enjoyed it and had fun, but most importantly , they gained new knowledge and helped to support a worthy cause. Pictures of the event are available at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/CaritasSlovakiaSKCH/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1230673710370939
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.