Donations from the Raise The Bra initiative. Supplied image.
Donations from the Raise The Bra initiative. Supplied image.

Raise The Bra initiative founder is not shy to ask women to give up their bras

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Sep 4, 2021

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Johannesburg - Dr Deon Weyers is one busy man.

Regarded as one of the country’s finest plastic and reconstructive surgeons, Weyer’s private rooms at Fourways Life Hospital in Johannesburg are almost always full.

From non-invasive and minimally invasive treatments such as neurotoxin and filler injections to procedures such as breast lifts, facelifts, rhinoplasty (nose job), otoplasty (ear surgery), breast reduction, breast construction and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), Weyers is always hard at work looking to improve the lives of his patients.

He has been particularly busy in the past few weeks.

Aside from having his hands full at his private practice, he is also working to promote his Raise The Bra initiative.

The project, which was launched last year, was reignited last month and will run until the end of September.

It asks Weyers’s patients, and members of the public, to donate bras they no longer use. The undergarments are then collected at Weyers’s practice, DW Skin & Body, at Life Hospital, Fourways, and distributed by the team from the Zabra-AfreeBra initiative. Zabra is an international volunteer network working with organisations looking after women in their care who can benefit from receiving bras free of charge.

Thousands of high school learners from underprivileged backgrounds in Gauteng are set to benefit too.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Deon Weyers. Supplied image.

Weyers is excited about the progress that he and his team have made in their mission.

“Due to last year’s incredible success we got a request again to do the same,” says Weyers. “With Covid-19 and the lockdown and all the restrictions, it threw things a little bit upside down. So we decided to focus on starting our collection in August during Women’s Month and to continue in September. Our goal for this run is to collect 2 000 bras.

The bras are set to be distributed to high schools in Soweto and Alexandra and other schools in Gauteng from which Weyers and the team at ZABRA receive requests.

Weyers says he was inspired by his patients to come up with the initiative.

“It focuses on collecting new or used bras and then distributing them to learners at schools and girls who are in less privileged positions, and who don’t have the luxury to afford a bra, which a lot of people actually consider to be something which is quite common and everyday.

“I do a lot of breast procedures, such as breast reductions, breast lifts, breast augmentations and reconstruction of the breast, and it’s been on more than one occasion that patients have asked me what can they do with their old bras.

“And that got me thinking. So I did a bit of research and came across an organisation called Zabra, which is headed by Jeanette Kruger. Her organisation basically collects donations of bras and distributes them to learners who do not have the means to afford bras.

“I teamed up with them and as part of Women’s Day last year in March I decided to ask my patients to donate any of their bras that they no longer were going to use. Things then were set in motion and a lot of interest and a lot of Facebook messages went around and it was really heart-warming to see all the donations coming in from my patients but also people who might also be interested in joining in the initiative.

“We wanted to collect 100 bras, but by the end of March last year we managed to collect more than a thousand which was a great up on the goal.”

He says while it was easy to collect used bras from his patients, it was a little trickier asking for undergarments from the public.

“Well, it was a little bit of a mixed reaction. For a lot of my patients, they saw it as a good cause. For the rest of the public, it does feel a little awkward to ask people for their old, used bras, because it is a piece of underclothing.

“But it’s amazing to see how people, in general, see it as a good cause and are more than eager to assist in the cause.”

Weyers says many of his celebrity patients had also happily donated, however, due to doctor-patient confidentiality, he isn’t able to reveal which celebrity had donated their used bras.

“I can it has definitely been heart-warming to see people in the limelight come on board and donate and even get friends to donate.

Asked what the campaign meant to him personally, Weyers says he was delighted to be part of an initiative that is helping those in need.

“One can easily just get lost in one’s everyday routine and work and with responsibilities related to that and to do something like this is like a breath of fresh air. Also in a time like this where you don’t see faces and smiles because they are covered up by masks and you hear of a lot of hardships, to do something like this and to see the gratitude for that has been really fulfilling and amazing.”

The donations to schools in Gauteng have already helped thousands of learners in the province.

Jeanette Kruger, the head of Zabra, says the project has come a long way.

“They are very much needed at the schools, and as one head teacher wrote to us, ‘For the first time the girls were able to participate in sports’. We can’t keep up with supply for the girls in the schools, so your donations will make a big difference.”

Last year, the Raise The Bra initiative focused on a school in Soweto where they collected 1 000 bras.

“It was a girl’s school in Soweto, and the bras we managed to collect and donate were not nearly enough,” says Weyers.

“There is such a need, and it's not only in Gauteng; Zabra is also donating right around the country, so it will be great to team up with other potential people.”

Weyers says it is crucial that South Africa has initiatives such as Raise The Bra to help those in need.

“It’s vitally important. As men, we don’t know what women have to go through with this basic piece of clothing, and many women take for granted something which for a lot of people is a luxury.

“To see and to get feedback of how it improved the self-confidence and how girls were now able to live out their full potential in an active and physical way was a big sign to me that there is a great need and that more initiatives like this are imperative and that it needs to continue into the future.”

Weyers hopes to continue the Raise The Bra initiative for years to come.

“The response is growing. From the previous time we have done this until now, a lot of relationships have been built, and the cause and idea of the concept is gaining momentum.

“It would be great to involve some celebrities in the future and get their endorsements of the campaign to supply the need and for it to be able to grow and become a more of a national initiative.”

Donations can be made at the collection point at Suite B22, Fourways Life Hospital as well as the following alternative collection points:

Cure Day Hospitals Wilgeheuwel

Cure Day Hospitals Fourways

Cure Day Hospitals Erasmuskloof

Cure Day Hospitals Midstream

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