Basket Blong Titi – I love that bislama term for bra.
This idea came about when talking with some female ni Vanuatu seasonal fruit workers, soon after their arrival in New Zealand, in December 2014, for another season in the Nelson Bays region.
I asked the ladies what kind of things would be helpful to them and their families back home, if I was able to collect from people in my community. I mentioned bras and they were instantly interested. My own observation as that often ni Vanuatu in rural communities that did have a bra, either was poorly fitted or had lost its life. The seasonal workers told me that the bras available in Vanuatu, which they could afford, were often of poor quality, so when in New Zealand the workers would buy bras from second hand stores. That is how it all began. A conversation.
After a few Facebook posts on the Lav Kokonas page, and then coverage in a local community newspaper, The Nelson Weekly, we managed to collect 265 pairs of bras. I thought this was a good result, but then the ball really did start to roll. Through a Vanuatu Connection in Christchurch, the organisation Uplift sent a large quantity of bras – approximately 230 pairs arriving. Coupled with a significant donation from Lea from Captivation, the lingerie store in Richmond. Donations from friends around the country started to arrive in my letterbox! The total to date is a MASSIVE 980 pairs of bras. The last of these are being delivered this week to some male workers who want to take the bras home to their wives, sisters and mothers in their remote villages, which have been badly affected by the events of Cyclone Pam.
I need to make it clear that I am not imposing my western way, that all women should wear bras. This project was the result of what rural living ni Vanuatu women were telling me. If I could make that desire a reality, then I would do what I could to assist. 980 is not a bad effort for one person to instigate. The personal stories that went with the donations often pulled at the heart strings, and the grateful recipients, many of who I already knew, was reward enough for being able to, once again “pay it forward in Vanuatu”.
Thanks to everyone who supported the bra drive in Nelson.