Stanwich’s “Fashion for Change” to raise money for Rwandan school

 Stanwich School students and faculty will take to the catwalk Friday to raise money for Project Blessing, a nonprofit group building a school in Rwanda.

More than 50 models, ages 4 and older, will walk the runway in the school’s “Fashion for Change” event at 6 p.m. Jan. 20. They will wear clothes from Jolie Gotique, Stella M’Lia, Winged Monkey and Vineyard Vines that will be available for purchase after the show, with a portion of proceeds going to Project Blessing.

 “It’s going to be quite a vibrant, fast-moving show,” said event coordinator Janine Kennedy.

The Loft in Stamford will do hair and makeup for the models, and Dexter Fisch from Arch Street Teen Center will be the DJ for the show’s music. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

Tickets — $20 for general admission and $40 for VIP seating — can be bought online.

Last year, Stanwich raised $2,269 for Project Blessing through the fashion show fundraiser. This year, the school hopes to raise more than $5,000, money which will be put toward constructing fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms at the Blessing School in Rwanda.

Greenwich Time reports that Project Blessing is an nonprofit started by Stanwich upper school science teacher Shaun Fletcher.

Fletcher started Project Blessing after a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide spoke at Stanwich during the 2006-07 school year. Fletcher used a school grant to travel to Rwanda the next year to learn more about the country. He visited about 20 communities, but Cybatanzit, a village where the closest school was two hours away by foot, stood out.

Fletcher said he was impressed by the villagers’ interest in education and their selfless attitude. All of the children who were orphaned in the genocide were adopted by other village members.

“When you’re there, you’re just listening; you’re a sponge,” Fletcher said. “I just kept hearing ‘We’re not educated, but our gift to our children must be education.’”

Since then, Fletcher has returned every year with students to help build the Blessing School and the village’s infrastructure.

So far, Project Blessing has spent $98,000 building the school in Rwanda. In 2016, the nonprofit raised $29,905.27 for the school, more than $23,000 of which came from parents of Stanwich School students.

Project Blessing needs to raise at least $65,000 more in funds for construction of the Grades 4-6 classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, school kitchen and health clinic, according to Fletcher. The aim is to complete the Blessing School in 2018.

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