During a medical mission trip in March 2012, Richmond family therapist Alden Ramsey met more than 100 families at a crowded clinic in Belize City, Belize. Some of the families had traveled for days to receive treatment by doctors who volunteered with the Richmond-based nonprofit World Pediatric Project, an organization that provides medical care to critically ill children in developing countries.
Upon her return home, Ramsey remembers worrying about what happened to the children after they left the clinic, and how their parents managed to provide ongoing care. “I wondered about, in those particular families, how a mother can work and also be there for her child,” she says.
Ramsey, 32, contacted World Pediatric Project’s local representative in Belize to see if she knew of any mothers who had sewing skills. In September 2013, the Goochland County resident was back in Belize, this time in Orange Walk, which is about an hour north of Belize City. There, Ramsey met Ana Vasquez, an unemployed single mother who has a teenage daughter with spina bifida. Vasquez had been fired from her last two jobs as a result of taking time off to care for her daughter.
Together, the two women worked in Vasquez’s hut on a rented sewing machine to design the first Alden Skirt prototype. The 100-percent-cotton skirts are made from colorful, textural prints and come in two lengths. It takes Vasquez less than two hours to construct a skirt, and she is compensated for each one she makes. In its first year, the business has supported the mother of two and allowed her to care for her daughter full-time.
“My primary goal is to keep Ana employed and to ensure stability in her family,” Ramsey says. Her future objectives include employing more seamstresses and starting a therapeutic sewing circle for women with similar situations to Vasquez.
The skirts are sold at Nellie George on Grove Avenue and at Wardrobe on Libbie Avenue for $89 each. Aldenskirts.com.