Knickers for Nairobi

knickers for nairobi
A Uniting Church congregation in a Victorian alpine town is changing the lives of girls in Kenya through an unconventional fundraising campaign.

Knickers for Nairobi has collected more than 8000 knickers and 1000 bras for girls in the Kibera slum in Nairobi in the past six months.

The project is spearheaded by Graham Clutterbuck, co-ordinator for mission and outreach (pictured above) at Upper Kiewa Valley Uniting Church in Mount Beauty.

For many children living in Kibera, education is the only realistic means of escaping slum life. But girls often miss school because they cannot access sanitary products and do not have spare underwear to use during their period.

Rev Alf Thistlethwaite, minister at Upper Kiewa Valley Uniting Church, said the congregation came up with the idea of Knickers for Nairobi following a visit from Women for Women in Africa co-founder Marguerite Ryan.  

“There are so many things we can’t change but this seemed like something we could,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.

The church op shop was used as the initial collection point but new drop-off sites were soon opened in Albury and Wodonga to meet demand. Volunteers created flyers and a Facebook page and the project also received promotion on ABC Goulburn Murray radio.

The collections points were inundated with new underwear and some sites required pick-ups twice a week.

The congregation recently shipped two large boxes of underwear to Nairobi and plans to send another 14 boxes in July.

“Church groups, service clubs, schools, and individuals have opened their hearts with extreme generosity,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.

“Our faith in God has spoken to us in a way that has empowered our church to

step outside the box of traditional fundraising.

“Our desire has caught the imagination of so many throughout Victoria and Southern New South Wales so that over 8000 items of underwear will be sent to Nairobi.”

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