Welcome to the Uganda Bra Drive. The initiative launched on 21 May 2020 but the story reaches back to 2015 when I began researching girls’ rights for my novel, I AM CHANGE.
I was inspired to write about girls’ rights after learning of the 2014 terrorist abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls and, needing to learn more, flew to Uganda. I didn't know what it felt like to be a poor African girl without shoes or schoolbooks. I needed to speak to girls who did.
The 30 girls I met through organisations like Concern for the Girl-Child and Girls Not Brides told me about forgoing meals to pay for textbooks and trading their bodies for school fees. Some had been given as wives in exchange for cattle. None of the girls I interviewed had both their parents. They lived in concrete boxes in the city's slums or in remote villages without running water or electricity. A lucky few were in secondary school, on scholarships, the only girls in their class.
I shared these stories with good friend and co-founder of Executive Edge Travel, Yvonne Verstandig and, inspired by my work to champion girls' rights, and wanting to offer her clients a deeper, more enriching travel experience, she asked if I'd co-host a women’s-only tour to Uganda in May 2020.
Our focus was to create real change and help improve the lives of girls through authentic giving. We planned to do this by spending time with the girls I wrote about and the organisations who advocate for them, arming them with the tools they need to shape their own lives including scholarships, school supplies, food and sanitary pads.
Then Covid-19 hit and we had to postpone our plans. We hope to take the tour in May 2021 but that doesn’t mean we can’t still help girls now, when they most need it. Girls already face so many challenges, especially once they develop curves; the sexual advances by teachers, harassment by male schoolmates and the expectation that once they bleed, they’ll stop school to marry. And it's even worse for the girls living in Uganda's slums.
“The vulnerable girls in the Soweto slum of Uganda can barely afford a meal, ” Christine Adero Of Girl Child Network told me when I asked how we could help. "so they can't afford bras. To pay for them, too many girls put themselves into compromising situations. Providing them with bras would free them of the need to resort to these practices."
We're working on getting girls the essentials they need. And we're collecting bras and asking for your help to do it. If you have new or pre-loved bras you can post them between now and 4 June to:
Uganda Bra Donations
306 Chesterville Road
or donate them at one of our drop-off points. Please message us to find out your closest location.
We also desperately need funds to pay for the cost of shipping the items from Australia to Uganda so we can get as many bras as possible to women in need. Anything you can contribute would be very much appreciated.
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Founders Uganda Bra Drive