When old clothes give new hopes

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Oct 15 2019 12:39 PM

For girls and women, closets tend to be an emotion-laden subject. It can make happy days happier when they have the right outfit on hand, or turn bad days to worse when they have nothing suitable to wear.

They can be open about it, so open that they post videos and photos on social media, or so secretive that their spouses or parents have no idea when and what they shop for.

There are those who hang on to every piece of clothing (bags and shoes) they own even when they no longer fit or have gone out of fashion. Then you have the ones who give items away, or are more enterprising and sell them, to make way for a new wardrobe.

When my 17-year old daughter came to me for permission to sell her gently-used clothes (translation: hardly worn) earlier this year, I told her no and suggested she donate them instead. Many charities welcome old clothes in good condition to distribute to their beneficiaries, or they can sell in turn and raise much-needed cash.

But my girl didn’t stop when I said no. Instead she built a case for it and started by saying that many of her schoolmates do the same thing. She argued that she will do it differently: she will keep only half the money and donate the other half to charity. She already had a charity in mind, and her “online shop” is all set for launch.

So closetforhope opened in Instagram and in a matter of seconds, my firstborn stepped into the exciting and equally frustrating world of retail. Some would offer to buy one item, and then change their mind and choose another item, and then disappear and end up not buying anything! Then you have those who want to shop always at half the retail price, or demand delivery and pick up at inconvenient locations at tight schedules, only not to show up.

I could see her hopeful project morphing into a hopeless one and was about to step in to find a way to fix it. But I should have given my daughter more credit – she had a Plan B that gave her a wider client base, zero base cost and a secure platform. Now on Carousell, closetforhope has grown from a project with a side of community service into a real advocacy.

Julienne has decided to donate not just half, but all her profits from the Instagram sales to Childhope Philippines to sponsor a weekend feeding session for over 50 street children. As a Carousell vendor, her mission has become more personal: she is sponsoring a 19-year old former street child to earn a college degree.

For someone who is not even in college yet, that mission may seem like a tall order. But the beneficiary’s need was urgent: Janna was starting her sophomore year when her former sponsor pulled out support. Without Julienne and closetforhope, Janna would have had to stop schooling and keep herself busy manning their small store in Luneta Park.

* * *

The experiences and situations of Julienne and Janna reminded me about a seven-year old holiday that is sadly not as widely celebrated as it should be: the International Day of the Girl Child marked just this Friday. Not much fanfare, limited spokespersons, too few champions, especially in our corner of the globe.

The United Nations in 2011 declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child in response to growing youth advocacy around the world. In its website, the United Nations explained that international days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days actually predates the establishment of the United Nations, yet it has embraced the practice as a powerful advocacy tool.

The mission is simple: “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” 

For the sake of Julienne and Janna, and hundreds of millions of girls and women around the world, let’s hope this special day will soon get the attention and traction that it deserves.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.