After her first year of college, Santa Barbara resident Sofia Melograno traveled to Africa on a trip that would jump-start her humanitarian journey. “I literally booked a trip, without telling my parents, to Tanzania,” she explained. “I traveled over there for the summer, and I taught English in a little government school. It was a really short trip, but it really sparked my interest in development, particularly in East Africa.”
Melograno then spent much of her time at Trinity College engaging the student body in issues of African development and participating in humanitarian work. She helped start the campus’s African Development Coalition and worked on numerous projects, including building a village school in Guinea, a computer lab at a university in Sierra Leone, and a maternity ward in Tanzania for women without access to a hospital.
Today, Melograno runs Beru Kids, a children’s clothing line that’s dedicated to increasing educational access for girls in Ethiopia. “We believe all kids should get to just be kids,” explained Melograno, “so we give a percentage of our profits back to organizations that focus their projects on children’s education and extracurricular activities in East Africa.” Launched in October 2014, the young company sells clothes inspired by traditional African textiles and prints, and only made from dead-stock fabric, which is the unused material left over by larger brands.
To further its charitable goals, the company initially partnered with the Tangible Hope Foundation, which is opening a community center in Kofele this fall that will provide necessary services for all residents. They are no longer associated with that organization, though. Production is based in Los Angeles, where Melograno spends a lot of her time overseeing both quality and working conditions. “I really wanted to make sure we were not just focused on East Africa,” she explained, “but that we were also focused on the communities that are right here in Southern California.”
Support this project by shopping at berukids.com.