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What your donations mean to people

Smalls for All® partners with Freedom from Fistula Foundation and Kenya Children’s Homes to reach some of the people who need underwear the most. Returning from a trip to Sierra Leone, Paul McNeil (who works for both organisations) shared his thoughts on the value of what we do, and what your donations of underwear mean to the people who receive them.

“Many people might think, ‘What’s the big deal with sending underwear to Africa?’ However, I can personally attest to the power of pants!” says Paul.

“We see many women and children who literally come to us with nothing. Many of the fistula patients we treat come to us wearing clothes that we have to burn because they’re so filthy. These are women who, through no fault of their own, have experienced prolonged labour, lost their babies as a result of this, and then found themselves incontinent – sometimes through both bladder and bowel (urine and faeces).

“They’ve had to discard much if not all of their own underwear because of the damage caused by this incontinence, and are often using matted rags in instead. The fortunate few who still have ‘underwear’, have to give it up when we bring them into our hospitals due to its unhygienic condition. So, when they’ve gone through successful surgical repair for their fistula, there’s nothing better than being able to give that woman a full set of clothing to go home in – which has to include some new underwear. Seeing their face light up, not only because they’re dry again but because they have clothing that helps to make them feel like a human, is a joyful sight.

“The impact of providing underwear is far greater than just handing over something that we very much take for granted.

“In a similar way, distributing kids’ underwear to our orphaned boys and girls is always a fun activity. The kids love to be able to pick their favourite colours, and you’d be surprised quite how proud a 5-year-old boy can be of his new spider-man pants!

“The long relationship we’ve had with Smalls for All®, has seen us distribute more than 180,000 items of underwear, which is a phenomenal level of support. We absolutely value and rely on the fantastic work done by Maria and all the volunteers and donors that make Smalls so successful.

“We’ll always have a need for underwear across our sites in Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Madagascar. And due to the generosity of Smalls and their donors, we sincerely hope we’ll continue to have a ‘pipeline of pants’.”