Simple Saturday ~ A Guest Post by Madeleine of Guinea

Week after week, tons of clothes arrive in Guinea‘s capital : Conakry. They are sent everywhere and sold at the markets. Here in Kissidougou, the sellers open new bunches of clothes every Tuesday. There is a rush on them, as everyone wants to have the best pieces. Then, the rest is sold during the week. You can really find anything: clothes, bras the seize of shower basins, gloves, ski suits, and the most beloved pajamas. Guinean love pajamas, because the shirts match the pants. They don’t understand pajamas as such, and wear them all the time. They don’t mind wearing ski suits either, even with 100°F !

I often go on a treasure hunt too. Today, I found six shirts. They seem brand new, are of good quality, and only cost me 30’000 francs. Don’t worry, this represents only 4,50$ ! But I must say I was lucky . There are some days where I only find torn, dirty clothes. Some people don’t mind wearing socks with holes, but who wants to buy them? A few people over there seem to think that « the poor africans » will be happy with anything, even their trash. But let me tell you that for 3000 francs, « the poor african » has to choose between a pair of socks with holes, or a whole meal. What would you do ? And what do you think we do?

But I must say, even if everything is not perfect, we love what you send, and it is SO useful to us ! So thank you everyone!

But I must say, even if everything is not perfect, we love what you send, and it is SO useful to us! So thank you everyone!

Just one last thing : maybe you are shocked because these bunches of clothes are supposed to be given to people in need, not sold on the market. But let me tell you that nearly everyone here is in need. The women who sell the clothes are usually very poor women, who earn their living, and their whole family’s living with this selling. The cooking oil I buy is « Gift from the Russian Federation ». I don’t mind, and nobody does : this oil or these chlothes are meant to help people, and this is exactly what happens !

The Weekend’s Mini Missions

Saturday ~ Declutter items that have accumulated on your desk top.

Sunday – Declutter items that have accumulated on the coffee table.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Have never been able to understand the idea of sending junk to places like this. If you are going to send something it should be clean, free of stains, all seams/zippers/buttons in good repair and everything looking the best it can. I think the same about anything I take to a thrift store or something. Also, I am glad it has always been the policy of our church denomination to send only clothes that are sutible for the particular country. It really saddens me that Madeleine does not see this in the market in her area.

  2. Thrifty sewing chick :

    What a great post!

    Also, regarding torn and soiled clothes. They also have value to me since I regularly buy clothes to reuse interesting buttons, pretty lace collars or just to reuse fabric and yarn. You can cut around holes and stains and use the rest. I do not buy only to wear clothes again, but to reuse clothes in other ways – often as doll clothes that sell for a nice profit. However, it would be nice for everyone if compromised clothes were marked as such. And nobody needs dirty socks with holes in them 😉

    • Hi Thrifty sewing chick and welcome to 365 Less Things. I agree with what you are saying here. There can be plenty of good material on garments that have a hole or a stain here and there. I am sure many people can use the materials in various ways.

    • I think that’s a brilliant idea! Take all “unfit for wear” clothing, and mark it as such in bins. Then they could just have it be say five cents an item or $1 a large bag (or an appropriate price for the location), and let people rummage through it if they wanted. Give a second chance to clothing that otherwise wouldn’t be used. My dad uses old socks as rags, and while he probably wouldn’t want a whole bag full of them, he would probably grab some of them if they were cheap (we don’t wear through much clothing anymore for ragmaking)

  3. God Bless you, Madeleine. It does sadden me as well that some of the items that arrive for resell or donation are not first quality. However, with that being said, if Madeleine’s post does not motivate each of us to go to our closets and donate, donate, donate, I don’t know what will. I know that here in the States, the organization, Soles for Souls and Clothes for Souls distributes only “almost new” and new clothing. We all have “too much”…time to simplify and scale back!

  4. Madeleine, what a lovely post. Thank you for reminding all of us to appreciate what we have. This is also a good reminder that if something isn’t good enough to give to a friend, it’s not good enough to donate.

  5. Calico ginger :

    Dear Madeleine, your post and those of others who have posted about the junk charity shops receive will make me much more aware of the need to only pass on good quality useful items. Anita, I will remember your saying – if it isn’t good enough for a friend…

    I used to volunteer in the school uniform shop and some of the donated items were in terrible shape – my guide then was if I wouldn’t send my child to school in it, then nobody else should have to either.

  6. The Other Lynn :

    I have been thrilled that our city now does textile recycling. The recycled fabrics of all sorts get made into insulation for buildings. This helps me not feel guilty about getting rid of the clothes that are stained or ripped or whatever.

  7. And another reminder to ask your thrift store if they sell rags, what items they accept as rags, and to mark your donations as such.

    • Hi Wendy B, the charity thrift store I work for has a warehouse where they sort all the clothing donations before sending them to the store so usually the really poor quality stuff is weeded out before it hits the shops. They do sell bags of rags, mostly t-shirt material. I imagine the rest goes in the trash. I wish we had fabric recycling like The Other Lynn’s town does.

      • I would like fabric recycling too! I had a poly/cotton shirt, and as someone said here, that’s useless as a rag (not absorbent enough), so I binned it (the reason it was not for use was I started unpicking the embroidered logo, which was insane, and no way I was ever going to do a good job, but if I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t have known… so I sated one curiosity!)

  8. Thank you for your messages. I can’t answer personnaly to everybody, it would take too much time, and the Internet connexion is not good at all.
    Thrifty sewing chick : I did the same with a soiled shirt decorated with buttons. I bought it and kept only the buttons. It was much cheaper than buying new buttons, and they were much nicer ! A friend of mine sometimes buys knitted things, only for wool, to knit something else.
    Kimberley : yes, some items are brand new. Some even still have a price on them.
    Everyone : the most beloved items are babies clothes. Everyone needs them, they are of good quality, and have never been worn for long, so they are still almost new.
    We all need each other. We need your old clothes, and you need… other coffee, bananas, pineapples, cocoa and such !

  9. Oh wow, thank you for sharing. If this isn’t humbling I don’t know what is. Truly, it puts life into perspective.

  10. Can either you or Colleen provide a link to which organization(s) things should be donated to to be sent to your city/country?

    • Sorry, I have no idea, the clothes just keep coming by boat, mainly from USA, France, Switzerland, Germany. I don’t know more. It is probably organised by some big charity, sending a lot of things together, otherwise the shipping costs would be too much.
      But you know, we don’t need more here. I am just glad if you know that what you give in your country really is useful somewhere else, the final country has no importance.

  11. Such an interesting post Madeleine. I reposted it to my Facebook page. Thank you for writing. -Cindy

    • Thanks Cindy ! You know, I love the fact that you never know what will be useful to others. I once saw a woman buying a boat paddle. The next lake is hundreds of kilometers away, so it was a bit strange to my eyes. In fact, the woman had no idea what a boat paddle was, but I saw her using it as a huge spoon for her huge pan, when she had to cook rice for a crowd during a burial.

      • Thank you Madeleine!! I had never thought of such things…when I donate clothes I don’t know where they’ll go, so I’m happy to know some of them are useful 🙂
        Also the story of the woman with the paddle makes me think a lot: what kind of things we are not able to reuse just because we don’t have the creativity to think about new ways?