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On Bras, Boulders, and Africa
My family and I have been to the Mulli Children's Family Home in Kenya several times. It's been a life changing experience for my daughters (and for me), and it's been so humbling. My husband has done medical work there, and my mother and I have organized all the donations and giving them out, along with helping with the microbusiness projects for the teenage girls who have been rescued from prostitution. We're in the middle of starting a knitting program for them (we've sent over several dozen knitting machines), and I'm excited about that!

But one thing that we have brought over is bras. Tons and tons of bras. Several thousand each time. There's a factory near us that makes high-end mastectomy bras (which work fine even if you haven't had a mastectomy), and they give us for free all their seconds. Add the donations to that, and we get a LOT of bras.

This morning my girls and several girls from our youth group sorted another 1000 donations. We don't bring too many of the 48DDs, for obvious reasons. The 36As and 34Bs are more useful. So because of space considerations, we sort everything so that we prioritize the small ones. So in two hours we bagged, counted, and sorted about 1000 bras.

Here's my girls and I sorting in Africa a few years ago:

And yes, Katie likes to put the huge ones on. She thinks it's funny.

It seems silly sometimes, but I'm reminded of one episode the first year we did this. We laid out all the bras on benches, in sizes, like this:

In the picture a teacher is trying a bra on. I can't show you pictures of the girls, for privacy reasons, but you get the idea! They like to try them on over their T-shirts to make it easier, and we all joined in:

That particular day one of the teachers came over and grabbed a big one and asked if she could take it for a girl who was too shy to try it on. She was large, and she was self-conscious about it. We said of course.

She came back and said that it fit the girl perfectly. If I remember correctly, it was something like a 38FF. We figured she'd probably never have a chance to get something like this again, and when you're that size, you need it. So we told her to go ahead and take a second for the girl.

Later that day, after everyone left, a very shy girl came in and gave my mother a kiss. It was the first bra she had ever found that had fit, and the first thing she'd ever worn that was new.

These girls have mostly been rescued from prostitution, or from prison (where they go when they are homeless) where they are gang raped. Most arrive pregnant, or with babies already. They are 15-20. They rarely have any underwear. To give them bras and underwear is just to give them some modesty after the abuse they have suffered. They really appreciate it.

Sometimes when we are swimming in bra donations the whole episode seems almost surreal. And sorting bras with a bunch of teenage girls is a riot! But what seems just silly and funny to us here makes such a difference there. And so I'm glad I had a chance to share that with my girls this morning, and I'm sure we'll sort many more before we return to Africa, with this next batch, in March!

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At 4:59 PM , Blogger Llama Momma said…

What an incredible ministry! As person who also wears a larger size (ahem), I cannot imagine not having access to a sturdy bra!!


At 12:05 AM , Blogger TRS said…

Who knew? What a great ministry indeed!

Talk about a need that we take for granted.
I'm on the Itty Bitty Committee - but even I value my bras.
Thank you for providing those women the modesty and the ... i guess... pride to take care of their 'girls'.

Even in my 34A state, I couldn't go a day without a bra!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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