June 2, 2014

Vendor Spotlight #3. Meet Brittany Berns and the Rising Stars Girls Scholarship Program

Our third and final vendor spotlight focuses on a very unique vendor at the Funky Flea-grad student Brittany Berns, who will be  selling hand made items to fund the Rising Stars Girls Scholarship Program!

Brittany is a graduate student at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, getting her degree in Public Administration.  She served in the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa and while there, she became passionate about furthering educational opportunities for girls.  She started the Rising Stars Girls program in 2011 and will be selling bags and bracelets made in Africa to fund the program.  100% of the money Brittany makes at the Funky flea will go to the Rising Stars Girls.

The Rising Stars Girls started with a modest $200 donation and a goal of providing uniforms, tuition, school supplies and  computer classes for girls in Benin.  The 5 girls in the inaugural program received help in these areas and also in creative writing, public speaking and mentoring by female leaders.  There are many challenges faced by the participants.  They often have trouble concentrating on their studies due to poor nutrition and many do not receive familial support of their desire to be educated.  The girls are not experienced at expressing themselves verbally to adults, particularly males, which can be problematic when they are taking the oral component of the National Exams.  Happily, this has not stopped the Rising Stars Girls program from growing and there are currently 20 girls enrolled.  And the program now boasts it's very first members of University!  Two Rising Stars Girls are currently attending public University at Parakou.  They are both the first members of their families to attend college and the money they receive from the Rising Stars Program helps with their room and board. 
Brittany will be selling various hand crafted items at the Funky Flea to raise money for the Rising Stars Girls.  She will have bracelets that are made of hand dyed, woven grass-made by the women in the village of  Tampegre, Benin.   

And hand crafted bags made from fabric selected  at a market in Benin.  She will have change purses,  market bags and computer bags-all made with beautiful colorful fabrics.

The makers of the bracelets know that their wares are being sold to fund girls education, a fact that makes them both happy and proud.  Brittany has built great relationships over the years with these incredible women!

The items sold at the Funky Flea will fund a few new programs for the 2014-2015 school year for the Rising Stars Girls.  Brittany is visiting in August and hoping to implement a school meals program, peer mentoring and an after school play program.  Please support this very special program by purchasing something from Brittany at the Funky Flea!!!


1 comment:

  1. What a great project! It’s good to know that someone like Brittany spends most of her time helping those girls in need. I also commend her for her harmonious relationship with the natives, as seen on their cooperation to her charity work. Anyway, I do hope all her bracelets and bags were sold out, for the sake of the beneficiaries of Rising Stars Girls. I hope you’ll be able to share more updates about that charity, and about the new bracelet and bag designs. Have a great day!

    Daryl Cross @ Nahi Gazal