Restoring dignity one bag at a time

The Bless My Bag team are, from left, Thamar Jacobs, Gerda Kriel and Tarmi Jacobs.

One might think every woman owns a handbag. Some women don’t. Therefore the Bless My Bag NGO, founded in March this year, sets out to bless another woman with your pre-loved bag and in so doing, try to restore the dignity of women in need.

They ask that if people donate their bags, they must make sure that the bag is at least clean and not torn because the whole point is to give dignity back to the less fortunate.

The project is run by three women who are committed to making a difference in other women’s lives.

Thamar Jacobs is a social worker in Bloubergstrand and marathon runner, then there is also clinical psychologist, Gerda Kriel and IT student Tarmi Jacobs, Thamar’s daughter.

Why a bag? Thamar said they decided to start the project by collecting bags because a bag is part of a women’s identity.

“In a handbag, a woman keeps her whole life. Between the three of us, we have identified five items that a women would need to have in her bag – deodorant, lip balm, sanitary wear, hand sanitisers and tissues. So when we ask people to donate bags, we ask them to be kind and include those items in the bag,” said Thamar.

Through the project, they want to make sure that women who are exposed to trauma, brokenness or being in difficult situations would be reminded that they are not alone.

They say it really does not matter what culture, age, qualification, or occupation she is from as long as she knows there is another woman out there thinking of her when giving her handbag away.

Gerda says she got involved because she is passionate about women’s rights and issues.

“What we aim to do is not to change the world of course but we plug into existing organisations and see where we can help. We support projects that work with women and speak to women about their worth and not just give the handbags. The handbags become something tangible to remind them that they are special and to not forget their worth,” said Gerda.

She said it would be great for big corporates to get involved in the initiative but insists that they target the individual.

“We would love for people to give out of the goodness of their hearts. People often think that they can’t make a difference but then they realise that they can just take their used handbag, put these five items and change someone’s life. Instead of trying to reach massive amounts of people at a time, we focus on the individual and trying to show them that one person can make a difference,” said Gerda.

If you want to get involved in the project, the current collection points for drop-offs are the Dutch Reformed Church, 3 Batavia Road, Bloubergstrand, from 9am to noon, the Dutch Reformed Church, 41 Grey Avenue, Table View, from 9am to noon and the Blaauwberg Therapy Centre, 103 Blaauwberg Road, Table View, from 8am to 6pm.

* For more information about the project, visit the Bless My Bag Facebook page or go to