Home > Talking Pants > Talking Pants – September 2012

New total 33,001

Many of you will know I have recently returned from my first visit to Malawi on 12-15 September 2012. It was just a short trip, but I managed to pack a fair bit in.

I had two main reasons for visiting Malawi. Firstly to visit a fistula clinic and take them 400 pairs of pants. The Freedom from Fistula Foundation opened a 12 bed unit in September 2010 at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe in partnership with The Rose Project Ireland. In addition they renovated a disused hospital building within the same compound, which is now used to house patients pre and post op, thus increasing their capacity to help the women suffering from fistula. Despite having a full time fistula surgeon there can be a waiting list of up to 100 women, so many challenges still remain.

Margaret Moyo, the centre co-ordinator, was very happy with our 400 pairs of pants and started handing them out to the ladies straight away. The work Margaret and her team do is amazing. As well as getting their fistula repaired, the women are given the chance to rebuild their lives after surgery by learning new skills and there is a lot of work done on confidence building. They also pay the school fees for girls who didn’t get to complete their education due to fistula; the youngest in the scheme being 14.

I’m really grateful to Margaret for taking the time out to show me around and introduce me to the women. Some of the women were just chatting away, others were knitting and crocheting. But as usual I found the African women to be happy and smiling away, even though clearly what they have gone through will have been a very distressing time. Even the 10 year old girl I met who was suffering from fistula (from recent childbirth) was able to smile when we were introduced – it was me, not her, who got upset at seeing her lying in the bed and thinking what she had been through! She is awaiting her operation and although very poorly when she first arrived, was gradually starting to improve and everyone is hoping she will be able to get her surgery next month.

My other reason for going was to look at the possibility of supporting a maternity clinic in Area 23, Lilongwe, with the help of our gently worn bras. Many women cannot afford to buy bras in Malawi as they are incredibly expensive. So I was investigating ways to make bras more accessible / affordable and at the same time support the Achikonde Clinic. Having researched how this might work on the ground, there is certainly an opportunity for our gently worn bras to be made available to women in Area 23 at an affordable price, with ALL proceeds going towards the running costs of the clinic. I’ve thought long and hard about this change for Smalls as to date we have given the bras away for free to women (Zimbabwe). I was uncomfortable with the concept of selling bras at first, but the reason Smalls was set up was to help women and children in Africa and after visiting the clinic and speaking with Charity who runs the clinic about the lack of good quality affordable bras, I believe we have the opportunity to support a vital service Charity is offering to the women and children of Lilongwe. So I have agreed to trial this approach and if you would like to find out more about our plans and who we will be helping, then please visit Pantastic Projects -self sufficiency.

So some exciting things from my trip to Malawi. But now I’m back in Scotland, determined to raise more donations for the causes we support, so it’s time for my for my sales pitch! It’s not that long until Christmas (can’t believe I’m saying this as most people know I run about the week before) so if you want to help raise funds for Smalls and help yourself get organised, why not purchase some pantastic Christmas cards? A pack of 10 will cost £3.75 (excludes postage and packaging). We also have the wonderful canvas bags at £4.50 (excludes postage and packaging). Ever been in the car park at the supermarket and found yourself without a £1 coin for the trolleys? Well, Smalls has the answer, for a “small” price of £1 you can purchase a Smalls trolley coin/key ring. We only have 100 of these for sale and I’m really pleased with the design, so get in touch quickly if you would like one.

And last by not least the Spree books! A tiny book crammed full of vouchers for restaurants, leisure activities and beauty salons. These proved really popular in the past, so we are making them available again. They’re widely recognised, so there’s no embarrassment when paying the bill. And for just £23, you can save a small fortune. In fact, I reckon you only need to use 2-3 vouchers (eating out) and you will have saved the original cost of the Spreee book. The books are available now and valid until October 2013, so you have plenty of time to use them and save money on having fun. There are books for Edinburgh & Lothians, Glasgow and Fife. Each book sold raises £8 for Smalls and all proceeds from the Spree books will be used to fund the education of our girls in 2013.

Finally, are you free on Wednesday 24 October? Smalls for All is having another Frock Swap. Tickets are priced at £10 (plus a pack of pants!) and the event is being held at Dirty Martini (upstairs at Le Monde) on George Street in Edinburgh. You will get a glass of wine on arrival and there will also be stalls selling jewellery and cosmetics. Let me know if you would like a ticket or if you want more details. It promises to be another great night.

To round off this update, I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support, with a special thanks to Jo Lister, Denise Ferguson, Agnes Ewing, Sylvia Aitchison, Danielle Small, Pam Peters and Moyra Allen for their donations of underwear. Thanks also to Dawn Fox and Moyra Allen for their monetary donations.

Best wishes

Maria