Gift-A-Bag to worthy cause for the underprivileged

2016-11-30 06:00
Gift-A-Bag organisation's co-founders are, from left, Fowzia Beydon Bloew, Shakiera Hendricks, Fahldeela Salie, Latiefa van Wyk, and Zanap Hammond.                  Photo: SUPPLIED

Gift-A-Bag organisation's co-founders are, from left, Fowzia Beydon Bloew, Shakiera Hendricks, Fahldeela Salie, Latiefa van Wyk, and Zanap Hammond. Photo: SUPPLIED

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AFTER hearing about young girls in Nelson Mandela Bay being absent from school because they are unable to afford sanitary towels, Fowzia Beydon Bloew, decided to reach out.

It was during this year’s Ramadaan, when Bloew decided to ask her friends, family and community members to assist her in setting up a sanitary towel initiative.

“The response was minimal, but I did research in the meantime and re-sent the request. The response was amazing, Alhamdulillah,” she said.

Bloew, together with four volunteers, shared ideas on starting an organisation for the underprivileged. This resulted in the formation of the Gift-A-Bag organisation with co-founders Fahldeela Salie, Latiefa van Wyk, Shakiera Hendricks and Zanap Hammond.

“The five of us got together and brain-stormed the name and officially started as Gift-a-Bag in July this year, so the organisation is only four months old.

“We can all relate as females to what a terrible position it must be to not have those products when needed and we all wanted to give something back,” Bloew said.

The main aim of the Gift-A-Bag organisation is to provide personal hygiene items to underprivileged women and children in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.

Within less than four months, the Gift-A-Bag organisation has distributed 200 packs of toiletries to both males and females.

“There are twelve standard items on the list, depending on donations received, age and gender of the children,” Bloew said.

The twelve standard items include pads (no tampons), spray deodorant, roll-on deodorant, disposable razor, toilet roll, pocket tissues, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, facecloth and soap.

“There are numerous organisations that give clothing and food, and Alhamdulillah, that is awesome. However, the need for personal hygiene items such as basic soap and toothpaste also exists,” Bloew said.

She added that for the underprivileged, personal hygiene items are considered luxury items. In many disadvantaged households, females have to choose between buying toiletries or food for their family.

The Gift-A-Bag team believes that no contribution is too small to make a big difference.

“Even if someone gives us one soap or one facecloth it will make a difference to someone in need,” Bloew said.

Since the inception, the Gift-A-Bag team has been to four madrassahs situated in Salt Lake, Gelvandale and Missionvale.

“Our aim is to rotate back to the beneficiaries on our list especially with the sanitary pads for young girls.”

During a visit to Madrassah Usool-e-Deen in Missionvale, bags of toiletries were given to both male and female pupils. The pupils’ mothers were given a handbag, scarf and toiletries as well.

“One little boy kept on opening his packet and saying, ‘tandepasta!’, and clutching it to his body,” Bloew said.

“The organisation does not only give to Muslims,” she added. “We have also been to ladies at a homeless shelter, and we are planning on going to a Sunday school by mid-December.”

The Gift-A-Bag team packages the toiletries in brown packets and opaque packaging.

“We want the recipients to feel dignified when they receive it so we take care on the presentation. We also attach a motivational note.”

One of the organisation’s goals is to become a registered non-profit organisation next year.

“The major challenge at the moment is to reach the greater community of PE and Uitenhage and receive consistent donations, also transporting the packs in suitable containers,” Bloew said.

The Gift-A-Bag storage facility is in Malabar, where the volunteers pack and distribute bags of toiletries.

“The last distribution for the year will be to the Sunday school at the informal settlements in Greenfields,” she said. “We are also planning a high tea as fundraising early next year.”

“Any suggestions or donations as well as any sponsorships for the upcoming high tea, would be highly appreciated,” Bloew added.

The Gift-A-Bag organisation’s drop-off points for donations are Desais Food Hyper in West End, Savoury Treats in Parkside, Zanap’s Supermarket and Take Aways in West End.

For more information about the Gift-A-Bag organisation and upcoming events, contact Gift-A-Bag on 081 726 5910 or email giftabag2016@gmail.com, or visit their ‘Gift-A-Bag’ page on Facebook.

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