March is National Women’s History Month. All month long we are celebrating by looking at some of the remarkable women throughout history who have made a huge difference in fundraising and humanitarian work.
In our first two posts in the series, we featured Eleanor Roosevelt and Madam C.J. Walker. This time we will focus on Indonesian fashion designer Anne Avantie, who has used her success in the fashion world to help make the world a better place.
Her Inspiration To Give Back
After becoming one of the most well-known fashion designers in Indonesia, Anne Avantie was inspired to help others. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently went into remission, Avantie was even more ready to give back.
One young boy served as the final push to start her charitable giving. According to Avantie, she learned about a boy named Aris Mansori‘s poor condition through the newspaper. The boy suffered from hydrocephalus, which meant that his brain had filled with abnormal amounts of fluid. Avantie was moved by what she read and decided to do what she could to help.
She made a donation to the boy’s parents, who then brought their son to thank her in person. After meeting Aris, she made the decision to focus her charity work on other children with the same health condition.
Wisma Kasih Bunda – House of Mother’s Love
In 2003, Avantie launched a halfway house in Semarang called Wisma Kasih Bunda, which means House of Mother’s Love. The organization was originally founded to treat more children like Aris Mansori who suffered from hydrocephalus, but demand for other types of treatment led them to help children with various conditions, injuries, and special needs.
Since the organization’s inception, Wisma Kasih Bunda has provided the funds for more than 800 children from around the country to have surgery. Avantie herself helps pay for the children’s medical expenses, which can cost as much as $2,000 per child.
Other Charity Work
While Avantie does keep busy with her career in fashion design, she still makes time to help the less fortunate. She has made charitable donations to provide training for housewives, students, and tailors, and has also opened a shop called Pendopo, which sells clothes made by local tailors.
“God has created these kids as special human beings. We want to foster their talents. But not only their talents: We also want them to care and lend a hand to their peers.”
Autobiography Proceeds Go To Charity
Avantie’s fashion design career has not always been smooth sailing. At one point, her work received harsh criticism from a national newspaper. Because of this criticism, Avantie decided to write an autobiography so that people would understand her upbringing and how she became a fashion designer.
True to her charitable nature, all proceeds from sales of her book, Anne Avantie: Inspirasi, Karya dan Cinta (“Anne Avantie: Inspirations, Works and Love”), benefit a nonprofit cancer treatment clinic that Avantie created in 2003. She founded the treatment center after her mother’s cancer went into remission, saying, “It’s my way to say thanks to God for giving my mom a second lease on life.”
Avantie’s charitable work has been noticed by many well-known figures in Indonesia. According to Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar, the Indonesian state minister for women’s empowerment and child protection:
“Anne Avantie is an inspirational Indonesian woman. Not many people are willing to dedicate their time and money to help others, but she does. I just hope there will be more Anne Avanties in Indonesia.”