2008 – BRIEF

YMCA PNG Bra Distribution

YWCA of Papua New Guinea

YMCA PNG Bra Distribution

This brief report will give a background of the Uplift Project, the activities undertaken, recipients’ responses and conclusion.


The Uplift Project has been in existence since 2005, having started in Fiji to meet the need for larger size bras among disadvantaged Fijians who were unable to afford good quality bras. In tropical countries, particularly the Pacific, heat and humidity cause infections, yet most women do no wear bras because the right size bras are unavailable and the second hand bras available are too expensive.

The Uplift Project commenced in PNG in September 2008, after YWCA Project Staff Lorraine Siraba, while on study in Melbourne between 2007-2008, established contact with Linda Koerner, a contact person for Uplift Project. Initial discussions on shipping bras to PNG bore fruition with the first 5 boxes sent in October and an additional 18 boxes received in December, a week before Christmas.


The YWCA as a women’s organization has expressed enthusiasm in maintaining partnership with Project Uplift having recognized the unavailability of good quality bras for women particularly at the grassroots level and the need for such basic necessities to be made available at affordable costs.

In PNG, the majority of women in settlements and villages wear skirts with elastics which they raise under their arms, others wear small tops on the inside while others wear baggy tops in place of bras. Most of the bras being sold in PNG are from the Asian Markets and are too small or do not have the right cup size. Many Papua New Guinean women are hard workers, who undertake heavy work such as gardening, carrying food produce and participating in sports, but do not have proper bras to provide support and the dignity of wearing a bra for everyday chores.


The first shipment of Bras was sent through by Liz via Rotary. The bras were distributed by YWCA National Office staff including our stakeholders by the following people:

Janet Russell – Boroko Fire Station

Janet Kabo – Tokarara suburb

Justine Vuvu – June Valley suburb

Priscilla Kare – Ranu Guri settlement (NCD)

Residents who live at Tokarara and June Valley Suburbs are low income earners. The settlements in Port Moresby comprise of people who have migrated to the city who have no means of support or if they do have a job, are unable to pay for basic services such as water, shelter and education. Majority of the people in settlements survive through the informal sector.

The second shipment of Bras contained 18 boxes containing over a thousand bras and were distributed as follows:

Fransisca Moiwo – Simbu Province

Mathilda Parau &ndash& Wagifa, GoodEnough Island, Milne Bay Province & distributed among low income families in Gordons where 1 or 2 people are earning an income to support a larger family.

Rose Opa ’ Kesi settlement & Karama village, Gulf Province

Pastor Andrew Roya – 5 mile settlement and Morata settlement, NCD.

Christine Kombugun – Bras distributed to sex workers and widows of police women at the Games Village police Barracks.

Slyvia ndash Laimatana – Kirakira village within the National Capital District

Helen Nunisa – Siara – Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Linda Karukuru – Kaugere settlement, NCD

Janet Russell – Domara village, Central Province


Since the distribution of bras, there has been an over whelming demand for more. Women have expressed joy and appreciation to the YWCA and Uplift Project for owning a basic necessity, which they have been without for years. However, most of the women in PNG within the low income barracks are smaller in size and therefore do not have need for the larger size bras. A contributing factor to this could be that most women in settlements and villages do a lot of physical work and eat one meal a day, particularly in the settlements. These women have requested for bra sizes 8 – 18 with cup sizes from A to DD. The arrival of the bras and the distribution was timely as it was done a week before Christmas, giving women in need a pleasant Christmas present as some of the women at Kesi settlement commented:

“We always look at these bras and like them very much. But we can only admire them as we cannot afford them.” Another said: “All these years, I have never worn a bra until today. This Christmas is really a Happy Christmas for me.”


The YWCA plans to collaborate with existing organizations in PNG such as Cancer Society, National Women’s Doctors Association and Susu Mamas (Nursing Mothers Group) to combine the distribution of bras with health messages relating to Breast Cancer, breast feeding, nutrition and general good health. We have established contact with the National Women’s Doctor’s Association and Susu Mamas who are excited about working in partnership with the YWCA for the betterment of all women.


There is an overwhelming demand for smaller size bras (sizes 8 – 18 with cup sizes from A to DD) for all women. For most women, it’s the first time for them to wear and own a bra. Teenage girls have also requested for small size bras as many of them go to school without bras and feel insecure and lack confidence. There is also a demand for nursing bras which will be given to Susu Mamas to distribute to their beneficiaries. To raise public attention to the importance of women’s health and promote Uplift Project and the kind assistance of the women of Australia, the YWCA plans to officially launch Uplift in 2009 with the Minister for Community Development Dame Carol Kidu with full details to be released when necessary preparations are confirmed. In conclusion, the YWCA thanks Uplift Project and the tireless efforts of volunteers in ensuring that women in PNG are accorded the dignity they deserve.

Lorraine Siraba