Smalls for all was founded in 2009 by Maria Macnamara from Bonny Scotland, following a series of trips where Maria had worked as a volunteer in orphanages in Africa.
Each time Maria volunteered was a learning experience and even though each trip holds many memories, not all memories made were happy.
“When I first visited Ethiopia I stayed with a host family and worked in an orphanage. I met a little girl called Elsa who was clearly very ill. Like many people would, I felt a real need to take action, perhaps pay for a doctor or even bring her back home for medical attention. I discussed this with one of the Sisters but she told me a doctor had seen Elsa and said she would “expire on the operating table”. So she just lay there waiting to die. Each day I would go to work, wondering if she would still be there.”
What was your main inspiration behind Smalls For All?
I was always very aware that following my trips, I’d left behind many children who had got used to me and had come to rely on me. I was very worried that perhaps I was doing more harm than good by spending two to three weeks with them and then leaving for home. I realised I needed to do something more sustainable that would have longer-term benefits.
I remembered a priest in Zimbabwe speaking about the lack of underwear and the problems this caused. Not only was it a health and hygiene problem for many poor African communities, but women often only own one pair of tattered pants or have none at all. Underwear is also seen as a status symbol and offers a degree of security. Women who can afford underwear tend to be seen as having someone who cares for them – a husband, brother or father. They are not on their own so they are not seen as vulnerable. This is how Smalls for all came to life as registered charity: to help vulnerable women and children. We have a trustee board of knowledgeable and committed individuals who bring wisdom and clear vision to our cause. We also have the support of many volunteers, without whom we wouldn’t have achieved what we have to date.
Fast forward 5 years and how has Smalls For All grown?
Today, Smalls for All and our supporters help to collect and distribute underwear, both new pants and new or gently worn bras, to women and children in Africa who need it most. We help those living in orphanages or IDP camps, as well as those suffering from medical conditions like fistula. Smalls for all is helping to fund the education of seven children in Kenya, so they can look forward to a better future. We are continuing to work with other local charitable organisations in Africa to ensure we provide help in a practical and sustainable way.
As they say, ‘Knowledge is power’ and I am guessing all mylittleloves readers are now wondering – “What can I do to help?”
Donate underwear (here’s the brief)…
All you have to do is buy a packet of ladies’ or children’s pants and send them to us. They must be new and size wise for children aged 3-15 or ladies size 8-16. They also accept new or ‘gently worn’ bras which can be any size. They will deliver all of them directly to those who need them the most. The charity also accepts any worn bras (which they recycle to raise funds).
For Followers in Dubai…
A team of expat mothers have grouped together to collect your donations. We would love if Dubai could get behind this amazing charity. At present these are the donation drop off points. This month the cut of date is the 8th of August (please get donating soon).
For further information, please don’t hesitate to contact Allison Primarolo on 0505502954 or myself on 0552959091.
Followers in Ireland and the United Kingdom…
Please post your smalls to-
Smalls For All
108 Buchanan Crescent,
Eliburn, Livingston, EH54 7EF.
The rest of the world…
If you haven’t got a local knicker shop you can always send Small for all a virtual ‘knicker’ by way of a cash donation. Cash donations are used to help get large pile’s of pants to Africa. Your money also supports fieldworkers on their ‘Dignity’ projects to offer women’s health and education.
Lets all get behind Maria and her team and “Say Pants To Poverty!”