Fempads – reusable sanitary towels for Uganda, a real life-changer!
Can any of us imagine what it must be like for girls and women not to have sanitary products easily available and affordable, for their monthly cycle? Well for the majority of females in Uganda, and I imagine other 3rd World Countries, it is the norm! Instead they have to use old rags, dried leaves, grass or paper – school girls sometimes tearing pages from school books.
Menstruation can be a life-restricting monthly event for women & girls, and the reason that girls do not attend school during their period in Uganda and women find it extremely difficult in the workplace. Also when girls start missing school they are far more likely to be exposed to other risks such as early pregnancy and marriage, and contracting HIV/AIDS.
If you remember, last year on the last day in Uganda and on my way to Entebbe airport, I visited my friend Patrick and his wife in Kevin who live on the outskirts of Kampala. They have a project teaching ladies who have had little or no education, the basic 3R’s. They also learn skills that could help them earn a living such as hairdressing, tailoring, basic computer and the latest knitting (many of you donated wool and needles!).
Before I left the UK for my trip to Ugandan in February earlier this I had seen on the internet the idea of reusable sanitary pads and had spoken briefly to Brain Trust head teacher Charles who had confirmed all of the above. Primary schools in Uganda have classes up Year 7, pupils of 14 years and sometimes older so the problems were very familiar to him.
My daughter Nicola sent me the downloaded instructions of how to make disposable ‘feminine pads’ and I decided to speak to Patrick about it thinking his group could make some. I showed him the design, the pattern and instructions and he was really interested.
It was strange but very refreshing to listen to him discuss maybe what we would call a ‘ladies problem’ openly with the other lunch guests Innocent and taxi driver Charles, none showing any sign of embarrassment. The menstrual cycle is just another part of life in Uganda but one that causes millions of women and girls big problems. They have no money so buying sanitary towels is out of the question.
So I left the idea with Patrick and since then they have made several hundred fempads and donated them to those who need them, most recently to young women at a Youth Camp in Western Uganda. Brilliant!
Patrick’s group are prepared to go on making and delivering the fempads as long as they can afford the materials involved so this is where we come in. Please would you make a donation to this ‘fempad project’ so the ladies being taught skills in Patrick’s group can help others. Each fempad costs approximately 1000 Ugx and they are given out in packs of five. At today’s exchange rate it works out at roughly £1 a pack.
(To clarify, the pads are washed and reused, not disposable)
Please get in touch if you would like to help. Thank you
I recently received this message from Patrick ‘I have a suggestion that we will send you the Sanitary Pads we are going to make when you are in Uganda and you can share them with the girls and women of Kamuli.’ Kamuli is the district where I deliver mosquito nets so wouldn’t it be great to be able to donate fempads to the ladies too!
I can send you the link to the instructions if you fancy making some fempads for me to take to Uganda sometime!