Our story

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NDA was founded on the 15th of April, 2012 by Danish anthropologist Maria Liv Claudi.
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The focus on empowering girls in South Africa
The idea and desire to work in South Africa was brought to live in 2008, when Maria Liv had her first stay in the country working as a volunteer at Hobbiton on Hogsback”, an outdoor education center for disadvantaged children.
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Several of the children at the centre had been abandoned by their relatives or were orphans due to AIDS. Others came from poor and troubled homes, and lacked essential things like food, clothes and access to medical care. 
Lacking the most basic needs made it extremely difficult for the children to keep up in school, and there was rarely any energy to play or to be a child.
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When Maria Liv returned to Denmark to finish her Masters in Anthropology, she chose to specialize in social issues focusing on the HIV and AIDS crisis in South Africa, and she continued her travels between Denmark and South Africa in 2009-2011.
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During her fieldwork as an Anthropology student, Maria Liv worked with HIV positive women in a poor urban area, Khayelitsha, outside of Cape Town.
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Here she met several determined young women. One of them, Babalwa, spent most of her free time helping the local community.
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During Maria Liv’s final year of study in South Africa, Babalwa got seriously ill. She died of AIDS in March 2010.
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Babalwa’s dream of helping the people in the community and the difference she made for them has been passed on to Maria Liv in the formation of NDA. A hope is that NDA can help create safer communities and better opportunities especially for young women in South Africa.
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The focus on the fashion industry
While the idea to set up NDA in 2012 was shaped in relation to Babalwa’s hope for a better future for girls in South Africa, the plan to work closely together with Nordic designers, is a result of Maria’s family background.
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Her mother, Pia Claudi, being a Danish designer, was the one who initially made Maria aware of the waste in the clothing industry.
Maria started reading up about the negative impact of the fashion industry – at its worst exploiting human capital, outsourcing production to the world’s lowest-wage economies and being polluting and wasteful.
She has no doubt that if nothing is done the levels of production and consumption will only increase – and we will see fashion waste as the next environmental crisis to rival plastic pollution in our oceans.

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Nordic Designers Aid and the participating designers are trying to move the industry in a more sustainable direction. While not pretending to come up with solutions to the massive problems of the industry itself and of consumerism, the hope is to make a small, but positive change here and now – and to create focus on the need to find more longterm solutions.
Maria Liv and Babalwa in Khayelitsha, 2009.
Babalwa is sitting to the left wearing a white jacket, while Maria Liv is wearing a red dress.
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