The Pad Project
For many girls in poor, remote communities, a period means missing school for up to 7 days each month, resulting in falling behind in their education due to lack of basic sanitary supplies. The girls often end up failing or quitting.
In the developed world, a young girl’s menstrual period is recognized as an ordinary part of growing up. Usually this means she has had sex-education classes, understands the significance of menstruation, and that her mother (or even her father) has introduced her to the vast array of products designed to make managing her period “easier”. A girl’s period might still be awkward as any intimate moment, but it is not a cause for shame. Unfortunately, this is not the case in under-developed countries.
In many poor and remote communities, when a girl gets her period, it is not just an awkward moment, it is a time of humiliation. Primitive traditions, combined with a lack of education, money, basic sanitary supplies and even water, can turn this natural occurrence into a source of shame or taboo. With no means to contain their menstruation, girls cannot go to school or enjoy normal contact with their community. They are considered dirty, disgraced, or sometimes even cursed, forcing them to hide away to avoid humiliation. Missing school for up to 7 days each month also means girls fall behind in their education, develop low self esteem and often end up failing or quitting school altogether. The ultimate consequence of all this is that young girls turn to marriage as their only means of survival, perpetuating a cycle of powerless women in male-dominant societies – an imbalance which often begets abuse and violence.
The reality is, something as banal as a period can have dire consequences on a girl’s future, and something as simple as a feminine pad can transform her life!
Recognising this, and aiming to better girls’ lives, the Okala Foundation is beginning a pilot project to give girls in underprivileged communities the means to manage their periods with dignity.
The objectives of the Pilot Pad Project will be:
-to raise awareness of the problem
-to recruit volunteers and sew fabric pads
-to appeal for donations to purchase underpants and create period kits,
-to deliver pads & period kits to girls in remote villages in Cameroon in November 2016
-to follow up and assess the usefulness and reception of the pads in the community
If the Pad Pilot Project receives a positive reaction and is successfully integrated into the villages, the Pad Project will go forward with the full plan:
-to integrate a short lesson on the reproductive process into the school program, for both boys & girls, in order to reduce shame based on ignorance
-to donate and set up sewing machines in each Okala school and teach girls to make their own pads
-to empower the girls and women by encouraging them to make and sell pads as a means of earning income, independence and self-worth
We hope you will support this worthy undertaking and lend us a hand. Please donate towards the purchase of fabrics, undergarments and sewing machines to contribute to the Pad Project.