When I think about the little ones born into this cleft in time; this rupture severing what was before and what will be after, nevermore the same . . . I see in their faces a kind of brave new world. A future that is being born. Here's how women around the world are honoring them - these future Ibu. These tiny Wee-bu. These faces of hope and change.
In Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tentely (above) taught herself how to smock as she continued her mother's dressmaking tradition, now creating each of those tiny dresses herself by hand. Tentely embroiders playful images of daily life over the smocking which take their precious factor off the charts, and makes of any day, in this artful creation, a very special day.
In northern Rwanda, Delphine (above) and other young deaf women make needle-felted sculptures. Gorilla Val, inspired by the creatures of their own mountains, was followed by Lilly Sheep, Beau Longhorn, Brink Bison, and Peppo Pig. It's dignified employment - this project of Handspun Hope, a beautiful fair-trade group creating work for survivors of genocide and HIV and other vulnerable members of their society.
In Kenya, mothers sew wee dresses from the same colorful cotton cloth as their own kitenge, or sarongs. Working with our collaborator, Duka, they add ruffles and ribbons for playtime, and mother/daughter fun.
Elaborate ikat dyeing and weaving - the kind you love on our Ibu dresses and tunics - would look fetching in miniature, we thought.. And they do! Handmade by Muhayo and her team in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Children draw. Mothers embroider the drawings onto an adorable cross-back dress designed at Ibu. The mothers live in Soma, Turkey - widowed, all, from a mine explosion taking the husbands and fathers. The work honors their children's creativity, as it honors the little one who gets to wear it.
When our brilliant collaborator, Milicent, came to Charleston billowing with an 8 month pregnancy, she bought a Wee-bu dress for her soon-to-be. A year later, little Edie has grown into her dress, and into the promise of another era for women everywhere. Just seeing this picture, I want to reach out my hands to touch her outstretched ones, to bridge this cleft in time, and to watch her, with amazement, grow into her Ibu powers and grace.
To all of those just beginning,
Susan Hull Walker