The mystery and origin of clothes is quite intriguing. It almost seems like a journey from leaves to cotton. From time immemorial, clothes have offered us protection from nudity. Its hard to resist a chuckle at how the world would have looked today if the leaves were still in play coupled with the fact that we would be none the wiser.
The etymology of the word ‘cloth’ has some interesting origins. In the English, one of the cognates is the word ‘covering’. A French origin of the word ‘dress’ refers to ‘something put right’. A popular Nigerian adage goes thus “I may not have money, but I have people; people are my clothes”.
In other words we can make bold to say that clothes ‘cover us and put us right’. Of course this is a simple thing that most of us think nothing of. At the same time, this is a luxury that many struggle to attain.
In the first group, clothes have transcended function to style. The age old saying says ‘clothes make a man’. Many tell a lot of a man by the clothes that adorn his body and of course same goes for a woman.
Many also define themselves by the style and other niceties relating to their clothes. We know fully well about the glamour and glitz associated with designer wear.
On the other hand, for the second group, clothes are solely about function serving the basal need for covering which is an essential piece of human dignity. For this group, there is no variety when it comes to clothes. Their clothes are always at the risk of excessive wear and tear. Many don’t realize sometimes that the smell of poverty stems from the sad reality of an inability to change a set of clothes.
This background brings me to the ‘Clothing Drive’ conducted by members of the organization IBWU ‘It begins with u’ on the 26th of January 2020. IBWU was able to mobilize members, friends and the general public to dig into their closets for their lightly used clothes so as to donate to the needy. In fairness, many may have ended up setting these clothes aside. These clothes may have lost value and function to their owners but IBWU worked hard to bring these items together knowing the value to the needy.
IBWU received items for men, women, boys and girls. We then took the time to sort them into their different batches and arranged the boxes lovingly to be dispatched to their new owners. Perhaps this process in some way helped to restore value to these items transforming them to treasures.
This initiative would not have been possible without the help of our able partners Junior Chambers International (JCI) who helped in distribution.
IBWU together with JCI was able to provide folks with much needed clothing items at Bab-es-Salam Orphange Ikeja, The Destiny Trust, Bogije, Ibeju Lekki, RACO Orphanage, Ibeju Lekki and Road 12 Support Foundation, Ikota. All in Lagos State.
IBWU is truly grateful for the support of partner entities in completing these programs. The benefits of collaboration amongst organizations for social good can not be overemphasized. In fact we strongly believe that synergy should be encouraged consistently to achieve long-term sustainable impact.
There are many folks facing extreme social and economic challenges in both inner cities and rural areas. We also have a large population of children including those in orphanages. The greatest reward is the grateful smiles on their faces as they received these small tokens of kindness.
The real truth is that beauty remains in the eye of the beholder and what one man views negatively is another’s treasure. Regardless of what we have made of them, clothes remain at their core, essential tools to cover us and put us right. When we reach out to the underprivileged in this manner we help to restore their dignity, covering them and putting them right. Perhaps we may become more intentional about our clothes when we realize our garments of style and entertainment mean necessity and survival for someone else.
IBWU hopes to expand this simple initiative in the future by finding creative ways to dig into people’s closets so as to clothe more people.
If you think about it, you will agree that these are not just clothes but ornaments of dignity.
My name is Dr Richard Olumide Oyefeso, a board member of IBWU. IBWU is privileged to serve others with a slice of dignity.