Sara’s Life Was Changed By 30 Bras

Sara was born in a rural village in Kenya with a bone deformity from her hips to her feet that left her unable to walk. As a young woman, she married and lived a simple but productive life on a small farm with her husband and 4 children. When her husband died, unable to do the farming herself, she left for a nearby city and took to begging. For 6 years she sat along the same walkway that cut through the city’s central park collecting enough money to keep her kids fed and in school.

One day, a woman who had walked by Sara countless times, stopped and offered help. She paid for Sara to learn to crochet and then bought materials for her to begin making shoulder bags and hats. She also connected Sara with an organization that built her a hand crank tricycle that allowed her get around independently.

With her new independence and first profits, Sara set up a small stand at the side of the road where she sold her crocheted items and everyday necessities like matches, soap, and toothbrushes. Her business supported the family well until several years ago when Kenya’s economy took a turn. Sara felt pressed, for the first time ever, to take a loan.  She borrowed $100 from a neighborhood money lender at a high interest rate. After the initial financial relief that the loan gave,  Sara began feeling the strain of having her small income divided by repaying the loan and supporting her family.

Fortunately, just as the loan repayment date was coming due, arrived with 30 bras that had been donated by Soroptimist clubs in the US. Bras from the US and Europe are hot items in Kenya and sell well. Sara sold them at her roadside stand and made not only enough money to help herself, but shared her good fortune with her community. She used about 20% of the profits to feed orphaned children in her neighborhood and donated two of the bras to her church. The remaining profits totaled more than a month’s earnings for Sara. With it, she paid off her debt and invested in a new small business – making & selling potato “crisps”. Not only can she sell the crisps at her roadside stand, but also from her door on off hours or days when her roadside stand is closed.

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