A volunteer who has finished her service and gone home started the wheels in motion for a donation of bras. The bras were being donated by a group in Australia but the shipping was going to be extremely expensive so she contacted the Red Cross who agreed to put the boxes in their shipping container to bring over. By boxes, I mean something like 8,000 bras. Kirsten, the PCV who replaced the one who started the project got a call saying, “We have bras, come get them.”
Kirsten has been coaching girls soccer, but many of the girls don’t own a bra. This is not unusual here, however playing soccer with no bra just sounds unpleasant. So, Kirsten though that she’d check and see if they had sports bras she could acquire for her soccer team. They didn’t. Instead, they had lace bras and fancy, frilly things. She took a few boxes anyway; any bra is better than no bra for playing soccer.
Kirsten showed up in the PC office with a bunch of bras, which prompted a discussion among all the volunteers. She figured she’d just give them away to her community, but that goes against a lot of what all of us are working towards. (Short of a rant, we believe in sustainable efforts and people working to benefit their own lives in ways they deem important, not just giving things to people, willy-nilly.) She didn’t feel right giving them away. I suggested she do an Aid Post fundraiser. Sell the bras for cheap, like 100 vt (~$1) and use the money to fund her work with her Aid Post. The women get bras, the community gets a stronger Aid Post, everyone wins!
Suzanne, the PC staff member who’s office is in the Volunteer Resource Center (our lounge/workspace/computers/mailboxes/center of Vila-life) stuck her head out of her door at the mention of a fundraiser to ask if the bras were for sale. Kirsten turned around and said, “Yes, 100 vt each. We’re going an Aid Post fundraiser.”
Suzanne told the other female staff members and in two days Kirsten sold 40 bras to friends and family of the staff members. That is 4,000 vt of fundraiser, which is about the best we’d get on a kava night here. So, the PCVs asked Kirsten if we could get more bras. She called the Red Cross and off we went for round two.
Round two was 10 boxes of bras. We sorted them and stuffed them in Chinese bags of about 75 each to send to the islands with volunteers. We had 6 bags, plus the rest that were sold in Vila and the extra three boxes Kirsten brought to her village.
I did my fundraiser after a workshop. It was like the best day of shopping with your girlfriends you could imagine. The women were excited to have access to good bras and to try them on before buying. We used the Aid Post as a changing room with women helping each other find ones that fit well and joking about breast size the whole time. The women who are pregnant or breastfeeding even got to buy ones that fit them well now and ones for post-baby size, because they were so cheap.
The fundraiser has so far raised 3,800 vt and I still have about 20 bras to sell. I declare this a success!