Company collects bras to help charity

MUCH-NEEDED SUPPORT::Brassieres have arrived from as far afield as France and Hong Kong, while Taiwanese actress Shu Qi has also sent some of her own used bras

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 - Page 4

A Taiwanese bra and underwear company has collected more than 20,000 used bras in less than two months as part of an international charity program to help survivors of sex trafficking, according to media reports.

Chien Ming-chi (簡明耆), vice president of Shinchenbra, was quoted as saying that the bra drive was initiated by Free The Girls, a US-based non-profit organization.

The charity collects used bras and donates them to women to use to set up businesses selling them.

Free The Girls began to collect used bras three years ago for shipment to Mozambique to help human trafficking survivors make a living selling used clothing while they build new lives for themselves.

It has collected more than 80,000 bras, replicating the program in Kenya, Uganda, Mexico and El Salvador.

With the consent of the organization, Shinchenbra launched a local bra donation drive in late June.

“We have since received more than 20,000 bras and expect to collect 30,000 to 40,000 by the end of August, when the first phase of the program is set to conclude,” Chien said.

Shinchenbra launched the drive online, inviting women to mail their unwanted bras to the company’s retail locations around Taiwan.

The bras are then sent to the company’s headquarters in New Taipei City (新北市) for selection, cleaning and packaging.

“The response was surprisingly enthusiastic,” Chien said, adding that many people helped promote the campaign by introducing friends, colleagues or family to the cause.

Actress Shu Qi (舒淇), for instance, has shown her support for the program on her Facebook page and sent a package of her own bras.

Some National Taiwan University students set up their own collection center to collect more than 100 bras and a civic group in Taipei’s Beitou District has also helped with the drive, Chien said.

He added that some people have been especially generous by sending brand new bras.

Moreover, Chien said, 99 percent of the donated bras are in good shape and suitable for shipment abroad.

“We have even received bras mailed from Hong Kong and France,” he said.

Chien said his company has already packaged some of the bras for delivery to the US charity.

“All the bras we have collected will be delivered to Free The Girls and they will then be distributed to the recipient countries,” he said.

Meanwhile, government-funded aid organization Taiwan ICDF, has been carrying out a used medical instrument donation drive since 2011 to help Taiwan’s African allies boost medical services.

Burkina Faso has been the main beneficiary since the project was launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and National Taiwan University, said a division chief at Taiwan ICDF.

“This year, the program has been expanded to cover The Gambia and Sao Tome and Principe,” said Tseng Yun-ching, a division chief in charge of medical aid affairs.

The medical instruments and equipment now en route to The Gambia include ultrasound devices, infant incubators and weighing scales, Tseng said.

Taiwan has also sent medical technicians to help assemble the machines, Tseng said.