“Sanitary pads for Africa” is an initiative started by Thato Maweni... from Maun, Botswana... Thato contacted me via Facebook and asked if I could visit on my way back down to S.A to assist with her mission to provide Sanitary pads for the poor in Botswana.
I am just so humbled and happy to see that there are individuals on my journey that want to connect with me and that share the same passions in wanting to bring change in Africa.
Sanitation is a big issue that needs to be addressed especially amongst the youth in rural areas.
All woman know how it feels to have to go through puberty...in our westernised society most girls have guidance from educational programs, friends, teachers and parents but in many many parts in Africa it is seen as Taboo and “impurity”. In many rural areas girls are taken out of school monthly and kept in a room where they are left to simply sit on newspaper or cardboard until their menstruation period is over.
There are also many reports where men and even teachers provide young girls with sanitary pads in return for sexual favours. There are also thousands of stories of girls that make their own plans to make a plan while they are menstruating by using grass, mud and even stones. As you can imagine these efforts to hide from embarrassment is extremely unhygienic and there are many reports of girls ending up in hospital, where some cases are fatal or that they cause so much damage to themselves that they no longer are able to bare children.
Thato and I have done so much research over the weekend that I visited and thankfully we found that there are many programs out there that are on a mission to educate and provide the poor with sanitary pads or alternative methods to curb this sensitive issue.
The bad news is that these programs mostly run in Western Africa and little to none is being done in Southern African countries like Namibia, Bostwana, Mozambique and Zambia.....
The positive that we can take from this is that we can connect with all these entities and share our story and hopefully be able to partner up for resources.
We have come up with a wonderful initiative that will launch in Maun, Botswana and once I get down to Cape Town I will be taking the same initiative across the country.
Our mission is to approach private and secondary schools in towns and cities and to set up assembly meetings with the girls in each school. By doing so we will be able to educate them about the realities that girls their age have to face each month. Our vision is to get each girl to donate a sanitary pad a month. We will connect each school with a rural school and either get our own volunteers or suggest various creative options(getting the school girls involved) to hand over the pads each month.
We will also be approaching local chain stores and discuss a possible partnership where we are able to leave a box at the exits of each store. The boxes can be decorated by the school girls with information about our initiative and asking each shopper to drop a sanitary pad or sanitary pack in the box as they exit the store.
Disposable pads will still be practical for schools but we would like to focus on reusable pads for those that come from rural areas. These reusables are available from various charities located in different parts of Africa that we hope to partner up with.
For more information please connect to my page“Trekking through Africa to Help Those In Need” or contact me via this page
Please check out these links to see what various charities are doing to empower young girls with sanitation.