Regina resident collects bras for Africa to advocate for women’s health

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A Regina woman collects bras to help spark a conversation around women's health in Africa – Apr 13, 2019

A Regina woman is offering her support by collecting more than 1,000 bras to give to women in Africa.

For the past four years, Danielle Gauthier has put a call out on social media looking for people to donate the undergarments.

Sitting on her living room floor are three hockey bags filled with bras of all shapes and sizes. Gauthier says it’s not even a third of the busty load that she’s collected for this year’s trip.

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Not only did Value Village and En Vogue Day Spa help with the stock, Gauthier says complete strangers have offered support, too.

“It shocks me every year, the generosity of Regina,” Gauthier said. “I come upstairs and there are bras on my deck. There are messages from people I don’t even know.”

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Gauthier first volunteered in Africa through Veterinarians without Borders, taking bras along with her. But over the years, her mission became more than just padding and underwire. Gauthier says she uses the bras as an ice breaker for talking about women’s health.

“A lot of the woman that we deal with are grandmothers, so they’ve never actually done a breast exam or known what to look for,” Gauthier said. “The bras are an incentive to check yourself, check your friends. They have breast buddies to remind each other every month what to check for and what to do when [they] do find a lump.”

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Gauthier is flying out with three of her friends, including a registered nurse, on April 21. They’ll travel to Tanzania and Uganda to visit clinics, schools and an orphanage and bring awareness to STDs, cancer and diabetes.

She says it’s a big learning experience, especially for many of the women who’ve never seen a bra before.

“It’s something that the women don’t have there. Most of them can’t afford bras,” Gauthier said. “[When] they’re trying the bras on, sometimes they’re on backwards, upside down or inside out, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Gauthier says even though many of the younger women enjoy the “glitzy” bras, sports bras tend to be the most useful for them.

“A lot of the women are working manual labour in fields or other kind of manual labour,” Gauthier said. “It’s hot there and it just makes it a little bit more comfortable.”

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