“In Africa, most of the times design and anything affiliated with sewing is a man’s job, not a woman’s job,” Momolu said.
Momolu was born in Liberia and came to the U.S. shortly before the civil war. She said Liberian women and young girls must now fend for themselves.
“Liberia’s just coming off a civil war,” Momolu said. “So you have a lot of families who, the head of their family was murdered in the war.”
Momolu, who was first runner-up on Project Runway Season Five, is working with Amani Liberia to bring African women hope.
“In Amani Liberia, we have found that by educating one woman, you’re educating a family and you’re educating a village,” said Stephanie Myers of Amani Liberia.
According to their website, Amani Liberia is a part of Amani ya Juu, which means “higher peace” in Swahili. Amani ya Juu teaches marginalized women in Africa to learn to sew and provide for themselves.
“Often we’ve heard of young Liberian women who are finding themselves only able to turn to prostitution for food, to turn to prostitution for the grades, for their education,” Myers said. “So [Amani Liberia is] very different, but it’s saying, ‘You have another choice.’”
Momolu recently showcased her designs at the Columbus Athletic Club to benefit Amani Liberia.
“Now that the war is over, everybody’s kind of regrouping and coming back to life,” Momolu said. “These women have to find a way to, you know, make money for their families.”
Momolu is returning to Liberia for the first time in more than 20 years to display a 27-dress collection in May to open the Amani Liberia center.
“For me to come in and say, ‘I’m a designer, I’m Liberian, I left the year before the war started but I made it happen and I went through the same thing you went through,’” Momolu said. “‘I’m doing it and I’m gonna teach you how to do it.’”
Myers said Amani brings multiple tribes together in the same building.
“Amani’s mission really is to give women hope, to give them peace. They have to work together,” Myers said. “We are in this together … it is peace. It is higher, higher peace.”