It was a hot and sunny day, which isn’t all that surprising since most every day here at CURE Niger is hot and sunny. What set this day apart? CURE Niger was playing host to its first-ever fashion show!
The fashion show was the brainchild of Amina Alio, a Nigerien-American Fulbright Fellow living in Niger. Born in Niger to a Nigerien father and an American mother, Amina moved to the United States at age 15. Her own involvement in a school fashion show compelled her to organise one here in Niger.
Amina, born with a slight malformation, was surprised when her school asked her to be a part of a fashion show. “I couldn’t believe they wanted me!” she says. “I never thought I would be part of anything related to physical beauty.” Amina wanted the children of Niger to have the same positive and uplifting experience she once had.
Amina knew about CURE Niger through her connections within Niger’s small Christian and non-profit communities. As she dreamed of this fashion show, CURE Niger arose as the natural place to put on the event. “CURE is the ideal place to work with children with physical disabilities or malformations… The children are full of hope despite the pain and past trauma in their lives, and the staff is very passionate about helping children physically, but they also understand the importance of emotional well-being.”
CURE Niger and Amina moved the fashion show plan forward thanks to contributions from several NGOs, including MADALA, The Leprosy Mission, Samaritan’s Purse, and individuals from the American International School of Niamey.
The event itself was a fun occasion with lots of laughter, joy, and constant confusion regarding who would go next! The children wore custom-made clothes by local tailors, each outfit designed with each child’s physical condition in mind.
The patients loved their new clothes and were excited to show them off. “They were beaming and looked so happy going down the catwalk.” She explained that, “in a society where there are people with disabilities, they are expected to remain hidden or to beg on the streets. Making them the centre of positive attention can greatly help to improve the morale and esteem of the children.”
And while the children were undeniably the primary focus, the event was designed with the audience in mind, as well. “I hope that [the audience was] reminded that beauty is not a one-size-fits-all concept, but can radiate from the inside out,” Amina says.
The fashion show proved a fantastic excuse to dress up, look good, feel special, and to let the children know that they are beautiful people who have just as much to contribute to society as anyone else. Amina believes that the event played a small part in changing the way people think about and treat children with disabilities. She wants Niger to progress to a point where society realises children with disabilities are children who have hopes, dreams, and abilities, and that they are children who deserve the same chance at joy, love, and care as all other children.
Check out more photos from this inspiring event!