This really is the neatest thing. So so proud of Brooke. The article reads:
When Brooke Wright thought of needs in Africa, the last thing that came to her mind was blankets. But when she packed up for her first trip to Malawi, she was told blankets would make good gifts for her sponsored children. So she squeezed two blankets into her luggage, and set off for an adventure that would change her life.
Brooke had come to Malawi on a Venture trip with Children of the Nations (COTN), and what she saw and learned there rocked her world. "I fell in love with Africa on that trip," says Brooke. "And at the same time it totally turned my world upside-down." Brooke returned from Africa with Malawi heavy on her heart. "I wanted to do something, but I didn't know what that would look like," she explains. It was out of this yearning to give back that Mwana, Brooke's "buy one, give one" blanket company, was born.
Brooke remembers the first time she heard of the need for blankets in Mgwayi, a rural community in Malawi where COTN runs a Village Partnership Program. A COTN–Malawi staff member was giving a presentation on sponsorship, and he specifically called out the need for blankets. "I had never heard of that need before," says Brooke. "In Africa you don't see the need for blankets—but when you actually go there, you realize it gets chilly at night." Walking around Mgwayi village, Brooke was struck by the small huts with no beds and no furniture. "I just realized how little they have," she says.
But the ultimate inspiration came from her sponsored children. When Brooke handed Isaac and Iness each a blanket, she realized the difference the simple gift of warmth and comfort can make. "It was amazing," she says, remembering the moment Isaac and Iness received their blankets. "I realized that giving them something to comfort them when they get cold at night, or just something they can call their own, can be so impactful."
The need moved Brooke to action. A few months after returning home, Brooke went to a conference and encountered an organization that crochets beanies to benefit women in Africa. She realized she could do something similar. "I can't crochet, but I can sew," she laughs. Brooke contacted COTN to see if they could build a resource partnership, where her new business could supply blankets to children in Malawi. When COTN–USA Resource Director Dave Schertzer was enthusiastic about the potential partnership, Brooke immediately bought fabric. That weekend she got her first sixteen orders. Since then Mwana, which means "baby" in Mgwayi's local language, has taken off.
Each purchase covers the cost for COTN to send one blanket to the children of Mgwayi. The handmade blankets have an appliqué of Africa stitched on the back, to remind customers that a child in Africa will have their very own blanket because of their purchase. The first shipment is scheduled for May, and Brooke hopes to send 253 blankets to Mgwayi. Brooke plans to travel back to Malawi in June to visit the children who received blankets through Mwana, and also hopes to teach sewing to the women of the village. "I don't want it to be just about giving children blankets, but also helping the women find a way to make money," she explains.
Mwana blankets are available for sale online. Buy one today and share warmth with children in need in Malawi.
Or, visit our gift catalog to send a blanket directly to a child in Africa.
Material needs are just the first step of holistic care. Sponsor a child today, and transform a life.