Runway to street: A fashion show for a cause

(Manila City, Philippines)

Since 2006, members of the Spouses of Heads of Mission (SHOM) — or more popularly known as Ambassadors’ Spouses — have been supporting ChildHope Asia Philippines, a non-profit, nongovernmental organization that aims to educate and protect street children.

This year, the Ambassadors’ Spouses take their cause to a higher level by choosing ChildHope as its sole beneficiary of a fashion benefit in cooperation with Rustan’s.

“The idea for this fashion show and charity gala was born in Denmark, where we all gathered together to think of a way of raising money,” related Finland’s Eleonora de Strobel-Hannikainen at the recent press gathering at Diamond Hotel. At the time, they were able to work with a boutique, and the event was a tremendous success that they thought they could do the same here. The Finland Ambassador’s wife expressed their gratitude for Rustan’s huge support for their cause, as well as their excitement for the upcoming event.

The fashion show is set on Tuesday, May 24, where the Ambassadors’ Spouses will model Rustan’s’ “Cruise Collection” at the Diamond Hotel. Some 19 spouses plus one ambassador will model two outfits each. Labels will include Sinequanone, Façonnable, Tadashi Shoji and Laundry.

According to the Ambassadors’ Spouses present in the launch, “All funds that will be raised from this gala event will be given to ChildHope in order to help them continue promote their cause, as well as for them to continue making a difference in the lives of more children. With the generous support of Diamond Hotel and together with Belvedere and Charriol Parfum, guests will be entertained as they see the spouses of different ambassadors’ showcase and walk down the runway.”

“We have been supporting ChildHope for five years now. One of the ways in which we do so is collecting coins through the different embassies. This is an opportunity to support them in a greater way than we have in the past,” noted New Zealand’s Sue Cotton.

Also present at the press briefing were Italy’s Silvana Novelli Fornari, Switzerland’s Gracita Tolentino and Venezuela’s Silvia Gonzalez Perez.

The ladies said they chose ChildHope for this venture because they want to help street children with no opportunities to “change their lives.”

Representing ChildHope Asia Philippines were Rhea Villaruba and Maribel Flores, who said the Philippines currently, has at least 250,000 street kids, with some 40,000 to 50,000 in Metro Manila alone. “We are able to reach 1,200 street kids every year. ChildHope is one of the pioneers in terms of providing street education program in the country. We cover 20 areas all over Metro Manila and we currently have 31 street educators, who go by pairs from Tuesday to Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. in those areas,” they said.

Founded in 1986, ChildHope Asia Philippines advocates the welfare of street children. Members of this foundation work together to liberate street children from the suffering they experience from living in the streets. Some of the ChildHope’s programs include counseling, alternative basic education, mobile health clinic, financial education program, vocational training, skills development, development of leadership and organizational capabilities and more.
Participating in the fashion show, aside from the ladies mentioned above, are: Argentina’s Marta Otero, Australia’s Leanne Brueckner, Austria’s Yan Donko, Canada’s Cathy Thornley, Chile’s Paulina Mayorga, Cuba’s Maite Perez, EU Delegation’s Margaret Ledoux, Greece’s Kostas Kanavariotis, India’s Indira Kumar, Indonesia’s Caecilia Legowo, Iraq’s Nadia Mati, Israel’s Limor Vapni, Norway’s Audhild Solem and Russia’s Elena Kudasheva — making it a truly “global effort” for the sake of our street children.

Tickets will be sold at P2, 000 per head. For inquiries, please contact Leif-Erik Hannikainen at 813-3739 or 09166961739. To know more about ChildHope Asia Philippines, you may contact them at 563-4647 or at

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