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as many of you know, i sew and sell my own models of cloth menstrual pads. cloth pad shop, one of the online portals where i have a store,* has a wonderful initiative going, which is the donation of cloth menstrual pads to girls and women in developing countries. without any access to such products, women in these areas are forced to use tree bark and leaves and newspaper to soak up their menstrual blood, or even insert clay into their vaginas to deal with their periods. needless to say, these materials are neither efficient nor healthy and it’s very common to get infections from such practices, not to mention the fact that it often makes it impossible for them to attend school or work and can become a humiliating experience.
this is the reason why cloth pad shop has decided to help in the way we pad-makers know best: sewing up and donating pads. the sellers participating in the initiative prepare individual or sets of pads and put them up “for sale” with a reduced price to cover a minimum of the costs of making and/or shipping them. clients choose which items they would like to donate and purchase them through cloth pad shop. the pads will then be mailed directly to the chosen charitable organization by the seller. the customers who pay for these donation items do NOT receive anything, besides the knowledge that they have helped at least one woman in need of a hygienic way of managing her menstrual period, thereby helping her avoid illness and absense from school or work. and that’s a great feeling!
in addition, i am publishing a list of all people donating to the cause, either by buying a donation item or providing materials (see below), on this blog, complete with any sort of website, blog or other information to give them public credit for their generosity (except, of course, those who prefer to remain anonymous). i thank you all!
there are four main organizations which provide menstrual pads to women in need that we are aware of:
sister hope: this non-profit organization’s mission is to educate, empower and unite women, who, throughout the world, are connected and therefore sisters. they focus specifically on difficulties girls and women in developing countries encounter with their menstrual cycle. they distribute menstrual kits in africa and south america with the goal of keeping as many females in school and/or work while keeping diseases at bay.
the shanti uganda society: in sanskrit, shanti means “peace.” shanti uganda is an organization which trains adults, many of whom are HIV+, to create handmade items or provide tuition for their education. they also provide medical services, especially for pregnant women, and yoga lessons for personal empowerment. it is possible to support this group’s initiatives by making a single or monthly donations, sponsoring a midwife, buying products produced by the local people trained through the program, buying medical supplies or sending in supplies from a long list that the organizers need. one of the things on that list? cloth menstrual pad
pads for prisons: this canadian organization provides cloth pads to female prisoners in southern sudan and afghanistan who don’t have access to health care or sanitary facilities. they also work on teaching female inmates to sew cloth pads for themselves and others and collect donations of intimate wear for inmates.
huru international: in swahili, huru means “freedom.” huru international focuses on giving girls in kenya freedom by providing both menstrual kits and information on HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as encouraging local job development. huru prefers monetary donations, but will also accept the donation of cloth pads.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
my cloth pad shop store* and order one of my donation items. or check out any of the other sellers’ charity items in any of the three sections of cloth pad shop (europe, usa/canada, australia).
- contact me (or any other cloth pad makers participating in this initiative who live closer to you) at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ANY cloth fabric that you would like to donate to the cause, even smallish pieces (pads don’t necessarily need large pieces of fabric!). this way we can afford to get more pads out there to the women who need them. (remember, we’re not making profit off of this initiative!) in particular we need cotton, cotton flannel, terry cloth, any sort of natural fibers (hemp, bamboo, soy, etc) and PUL (laminated cotton or polyester). remember, we don’t need only brand new fabric. old towels, used flannel shirts or pajama pants or tablecloths and duvet covers you don’t need anymore provide lots of fabric, even if stained.
- go to the website of one (or all!) of these organizations to see what exactly they need help with and what you would be best suited to do.
update: i sent 40 pads to shanti uganda in february 2011. (sister hope didn’t need any more.) many of these pads were funded through my shops, and the rest were donated directly by myself. thanks to everyone who helped!
*update #2: my cloth pad shop online store is closed. the shop is currently located on Etsy.