Sue’s uplifting project

By Rhys Williams

Sue O’Brien’s guests are often confounded when they walk into her home and spot a thousand bras stacked in the corner of her living room.

But the Corowa woman isn’t hoarding ladies lingerie to clandestinely sell out of her boot or to re-purpose old bras into purses – which some people supposedly do.

The undergarments she accumulates are about to find their way to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Fiji and the Northern Territory among other destinations, as part of the Uplift Project which donates recycled bras to destitute countries in the Asia Pacific. 

“The benefits of recycling bras can change lives in many meaningful ways,” Ms O’Brien told The Free Press.

“It can mean for women out in the fields having the comfort and support she needs whilst working making things much easier for her. Women who are trying to go back to work in a more professional capacity, sometimes  will not go if they don’t have a bra or employers will not hire women who does not wear a bra.

“Many of these countries are not completely bereft of brassieres, they are just so difficult to acquire or prohibitively costly. Often the cost of a bra can be equal to a week’s wages.”

Since the initiative began in 2005, Uplift has sent 750,000 bras to women in Fiji, PNG, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Philippines, Bali, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley regions in Australia.

Sue has been the Riverina representative for two years and has been getting community groups such as Corowa CWA, St. Vinnies and the Corowa Ladies Probus on board with the project.

“It is really an easy way for us here in Corowa to make a positive difference to women in other regions, therefore, if you have one at the bottom of the drawer that you will not be wearing anymore, it could be the only bra that another woman has ever owned,” she said.

“Therefore, if you have some spare bras of any variety lying clogging up the closet, you can make a real difference by donating them to Uplift.”

All items sent to these areas are fumigated (government requires this) and then thoroughly cleaned before they become available to women who require them. 

Shipping containers need to be purchased or hired, these are then filled to the brim with bras and other items desperately needed. All of this has an overhead cost so Uplift Project asks that 10 cents be donated along with every bra to cover the cost.

Sue recently dropped off over 800 bras in Sydney along with the funds for them to be sent overseas, which were generously gifted from many donors across the district.

Any future donations may be left at Corowa CWA.