A while ago I heard about an initiative to get underwear to Africa.  The article was based on a lady going to Zimbabwe and asking a local priest what was needed.  His reply was “bras” as “a bra gives women prestige, it shows they have money, men are less likely to assault them”.  Unfortunately, being a catholic priest he didn’t mention that most of the girls and women often only owned one pair of tattered pants so they  wouldn’t wear any!

Many of you know that I spent 2 weeks working in an orphanage in Ethiopia, living with a host family.  It was a great experience but made me think again about the underwear problem that exists in Africa.  When I got back I spent 4 weeks researching, talking to people who distribute in Africa (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone) and arguing with myself about whether this was something I should do or not!  I decided to talk with some friends to get their reaction – that was a mistake as someone (Jane Hogg) went out and bought bras and knickers before I said I was def going ahead!  I then decided to test the waters so sent the email last week to gauge what support, if any, there would be.

As you know from my email today the response has been fantastic.  As I left work today I had 251 pairs of knickers and 7 bras (thanks to Abi the People team are awash with knickers).  I got home tonight to a message from Stella Leitch saying she has “broke the 1st 100″,  she set herself a target of 400 (and she only had 1 glass of wine).

So given the response I feel confident in booking my flight to Ethiopia (Annie…..?)

One of the distributors I’ve been talking to is Danielle from Ethiopian Orphanage Relief, and we’ve identified Children’s Heaven and Toukoul as being places that would benefit.  I’m also planning on taking underwear to the orphanage I worked in, Kidane Mihret. Children’s Heaven houses approx 100 teenage girls who have been orphaned due to AIDS, Toukoul house approx 350 children.

I’d set a target of 2000 but will need approx 1100 for Ethiopia as want to give each child 2 pairs of pants.  Depending on how the appeal goes,  I’ll hopefully be able to firm up the next destination for our PANTS (people always need their smalls!), just don’t want to promise support to the other 2 people I’m in contact with at the moment.

thanks again everyone.



16 Responses to “Introduction”

  1. Stella Says:

    100? Oh ye of little faith! I have around 440 pants, 15 bras and 13 vests to hand over to you this evening, with lots more promised. So we are well on the way to 2000 then? That really is fantastic! Thanks to everyone, especially my neighbour Andrea who thanks to her friends and colleagues at St John’s Hospital Livingston has come up with about 150 pairs!

  2. smallsforall Says:

    Holy camoley….well you did set a target of 400, and you’ve smashed it! Thanks very much and thanks to everyone who gave donations. Will be over later with my pick up truck…Mx

  3. Fi Campbell Says:

    I am interested in helping by sending you some knickers I am also a guide leader and this would be a good project to get some of the girls involved in collecting! what exact items do you need? where do we send them to? look forward to hearing from you, well done!

  4. smallsforall Says:

    Hi Fi, thanks for getting in touch! I emailed out to my contacts and in the email there was a flyer which gave more details on what was needed with a bit history – seems everywhere I go there are leaflets up! There is a bit at the bottom you could put your name and contact number, not sure if that is something that would interest you? In terms of getting the underwear to me I have been out collecting or people have been passing them to me at work.
    Thanks again for getting in touch and wanting to get involved – need all the help I can get!

  5. Clare Thommen Says:

    Hi Maria, long time no speak hope you are doing well! Stella passed me on your blog link and told me about your project, it looks amazing you must be so proud! I’ve wanted to try and get something like this off the ground for years now, as asked all the time if we can do anything with redundant bras that are still in good condition but usually just the wrong size!

    Would love to help if can in someway, Stella has my contact details or my e mail should be in post log so drop me a line.

    Clare (former Scottish Provident, turned smalls seller!)

  6. Eloise Says:

    HI Maria
    We have lingerie shops in Australia. Could we donate bras from our customers?


  7. Suzi Blair Says:

    Hi there. I’ve been looking for a charity or organisation who will take donations of bras. They will be second hand but decent, clean and still perfectly wearable (following many discussions with my Mum & friends over the amount fo bras we have in drawers which don’t fit etc).

    I have had plastic collection bags through my door which mention they take underwear but I’m dubious as they’re not from charities and therefore I don’t think the bras would get to the women who really need them or they would be ‘sold’ to them rather than gifted.

    Before I email colleagues & friends can you let me know if you would be able to take whatever I collect? I’m happy to ask them for donations of multipack cotton pants along with their unwanted bras.

    Kind regards

    • smallsforall Says:

      Hi Suzi, thanks so much for your email! I’m off to Kenya next Friday taking underwear over but when I get back I really need help with bras and ladies pants as I’m supporting the dignity restored campaign which I need to have the underwear ready for June time. Need all the help I can get. Am not registered as yet but you will have seen from the blog that I’m working on it! Happy to talk it through further if you want, my email is if you want to send me a phone number.

  8. Ann Cook Says:

    Hi Maria I have just read your article in the Readers Digest, I have some New Bras which I bought and now don’t fit, I would be happy to send them to you and I will also e-mail my friends and family to see if they have any undies too.
    Your story was gripping , I think you are doing a wonderful thing to help women in Africa.
    Please send me details to donate.
    Well done, you deserve a medal, Kind Regards Ann

  9. Deborah Walker Says:

    I am so pleased I have found this website. I’m one of the many who has very decent, hardly worn and clean bras that I’d like to pass on to you. I’m going to tell friends and colleagues as well about what you’re doing so will hopefully be able to round up (no pun intended) a few more.
    I’m shopping this afternoon so will pick up a few multipacks of pants while I’m there – every little helps. Please let me know where to send them.

    Keep up the good work.


  10. Debbie Stinchcombe Says:

    I also recently read your article in Readers’ Digest and was appalled at what a difference a simple set of undies can make. I’ve bought around 50 pairs of various sizes and would like to get others in my area involved. Please could you e-mail me with your flyer and any delivery details. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’m also going to post a link to your website on my facebook page, if that’s ok.

    Great stuff!


    • smallsforall Says:

      Hi Debbie, thanks for taking the time to read the article and have a look at the blog. Thanks also for buying underwear, I’m in the middle of organising for Zimbabwe and hoping to go to Kenya later in the year so need all the help I can get 🙂
      I will look the flyer out and send you later today, along with the address for sending your donations.
      thanks again

  11. Julief Says:

    I too have just read the Readers Digest article
    Please can you forward the flyer so I can put it on the notice board in work.
    Also contact details to send collections

  12. Jenny Says:

    what a great idea but what is the address to send donations to ?

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