Submitted by Christian Brothers Academy

DEWITT — Christian Brothers Academy students in Peer Ministry have teamed up with junior Toby Okong’o’s hometown village in Kenya to help provide living wages for families by selling bow ties.

Okong’o’s mother and other village women started a business making artisan, African bow ties. The ties are made on treadle sewing machines (operated by foot). CBA was able to secure 200 bow ties. Fourteen different patterns that all have African origins are available to purchase for $30. One-third of the price of the tie will go toward salaries for the women. If all ties are sold, the women will receive over $100 each (currently they make $1 per week). Another third will go toward equipment (sewing machines, etc.) and the remaining third will go toward capital to expand and market.

“Every penny goes back to the women in the village,” said Marijane Finlay, Campus Ministry Service Coordinator.

The people in Okong’o’s village live on a subsistence level. They don’t have electricity or running water and they grow enough food and have enough livestock to meet their basic daily needs.

So far, the bow ties, each unique in design and production, have been a hit.  Students, faculty and staff are purchasing them for gifts, to wear themselves, or just to show support.

“The Peer Ministers thought this was a great opportunity to support an awesome student, his family, and make a difference in a whole community,” Finlay added.

To purchase a bow tie, contact the CBA Main Office at (315) 446-5960.

Showing off their bow ties above are (left to right) senior Peer Ministers Geoff Parkes and Nate Burns, junior Toby Okong’o, and Principal Matt Keough.

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