Monday, 10 August 2020

Handbag handout

With Women's Day celebrated on 9 August, there are often women-focused initiatives. One of our parkrun ladies passed a flyer on to me that asked for donations of handbags that are no longer used and also toiletry products to go into the bags.

I passed the flyer on to my bookclub friends and so the wheels began turning. One of the women has a side business in handbags and she tries a lot of them. She gave me six of her used, but in great condition, bags. I hit Clicks and took advantage of 3-for-2 specials on basics like bath soap, body lotion, face cloths, tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant and the like. I also had some crochet headbands and flowers on hand to add. 

My mom and I provided contents for four bags and we also handed in the other two bags to be filled with content provided by others.

While walking around Clicks, I was thinking about women (same applies to men and children) in absolute dire straits. Shampoo or food on the table. Of course, food. But there is something to be said for being able to brush your teeth and scrub your skin to feel fresh and clean.

A bottle of store-brand shampoo is at least R40/bottle. Toothbrushes are at least R10 to R15 each - but purchased in a pack of two so that's R30. Toothpaste is R12 at least. Same for a bar of soap. 

And then there are 'feminine hygiene products'. Sanitary pads are not cheap! I've had a mooncup and washable, reusable products for years but these are not cheap purchases (even though they last for years and years) and they also rely on you having access to clean water - which is not a given if you have no home. What if you can't afford the R22 for a pack of pads? 

I have very few toiletries. I don't need any more than what I have. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, a big tub of rich aqueous cream that I use for body and face (this dry highveld sucks every inch of moisture from your skin), toothbrush and toothpaste (also mouthwash and dental floss), sunblock, lip balm, deo, razor, face cloths, nail brush. That's about it for what I use daily.

I do have a stash of a few other items collected over time - bought by me (like a bottle of tissue oil, nail polish etc) or received as gifts (other body lotions or shower gels). I enjoy these and work my way through them.

And I do have toilet paper. 

And so when I wash my face in the morning - using my face cloth and water - and then brush my teeth; or when I take a shower after a run, wash my hair, scrub off the dirt from running trails, I am thankful for this special privilege of having a hot shower, dry towel and a tub of cream. 

This handbag initiative is such a 'simple' one but what a lovely and thoughtful initiative it actually is. In the big picture, food, warmth and shelter are key. Everything else is an extra. 

The parkrun lady who coordinated things on this side, delivered a boot-load (full car trunk) of filled bags today to the lady who started this initiative in our area. 

A few dozen women will receive a bag filled with the next layer of essentials. These hygiene products may allow a few women to feel that bit more fresh and clean. I'd say 'pampered'. Yes. But for me the basics are about hygiene and just feeling fresh enough to make it through the day ahead.

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