A Nigerian Australian has given Cootamundra’s Red Cross Shop a colourful thank-you for used clothing the shop has rejected because of small blemishes and marks.
Romeo Remi, a Wagga resident, brought a “calabash” - a brightly-decorated food bowl - to say thanks for hundreds of Cootamundra clothes he distributed to people in hamlets in Kwara State, Nigeria, in Christmas 2018.
Because it is fragile and could break if knocked off a counter, the calabash has been put in a protective display case mounted on the shop’s wall, surrounded by photos and artwork showing village children and adults happily wearing the Australian clothes.
Helen Eccleston, the shop’s Volunteer Manager, said the clothes were well received in a country where more than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, on less than two Australian dollars a day.
“The things we can’t sell are of good quality but not of a standard we require to be sold to the public.
“However it doesn’t seem to matter what the item is, so long as it’s of reasonable quality there’s someone somewhere who can use it.”
Helen said that around March last year Romeo, an Australian of Nigerian background, called into the shop while he was passing through Cootamundra and asked with clothing that was surplus to requirements.
“After doing some homework to check if he was ridgey-didge, we let him have all our surplus stuff which he came and picked up every six weeks or so.
“By the end of the year he had a container full which he sent back to Nigeria and then went over there to distribute.”
Helen said the Cootamundra community was helping Red Cross achieve its objective of helping people in need, both here and in another country.
Already this year, with the shop open only a few weeks, the shop has been able to give Romeo eight large storage bags full of clothes.