Archive for the ‘Pads4Girls’ Category

KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Madeleine

Sarah Hadden is a former teacher and the US Director of the KURA project, an organization that supports literacy in Northern Kenya.

After traveling to Kenya in 2010 and again in September 2012, I witnessed the sad state of affairs in the schools in Samburu, Maasai Mara and Nairobi.

As a former teacher, it broke my heart to see children deprived of an education for lack of funding. I was told that conditions in the north were far worse with the majority of the population being deprived of an education due to extreme poverty. I soon met Kura Omar, a local resident, who helped me understand even more the great need for assistance. Kura grew up in northern Kenya so he is very aware of the hardships and needs of the people living there.

kura1 KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

Upon returning to the United States, I started The KURA Project (Kids Uniting for Rural Africa), naming the program after Kura, in order to raise funds for school supplies for these underserved students in northern Kenya.

Since its inception the Kura Project has delivered supplies to 11 primary schools in Northern Kenya. These deliveries included items the teachers requested, such as pens, pencils, geometrical sets, story books, rulers, graph books, dictionaries, composition books, exercise books, text books, crayons and sanitary towels(pads). Kura generously donated his time and effort to deliver these supplies to schools in the north.

After delivering supplies to several of the schools, and receiving letters of thanks for the donations, a common theme appeared. Each letter and sentiment passed on through Kura expressed appreciation for sanitary towels. Many girls are deprived of an education because of the lack of this basic necessity. Many girls must remain home during this time and risk the danger of being married off for cows at a very young age.

In 2012 The KURA Project began raising money for AFRIpads menstrual hygiene kits. These reusable sanitary pads last the girls and women up to one year, keep them in school and allow them to go through their monthly cycle with dignity.

kura8 KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

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Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

Monday, June 16th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s often said that the best things in life can take time, and that relationships are everything. In the case of a unique new tactic that supports education for girls in the developing world, these old adages are more than true.

rmf Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!I was initially contacted online by CottonTales and Transformation Textiles founder Rachel Starkey in the early 2000s, connecting over our shared interest in washable pads. We met in person for the first time in 2003 in Vancouver, when Rachel had returned back to Canada for a family visit from her home in Alexandria, Egypt. Little did I know at the time that our relationship would span decades and continents.

Over the years we have met up in Las Vegas as well as Egypt, every time going deeper on the idea of using mass-scale garment manufacturing to create mass-scale reusable panties and pads to support girls education in the developing world.

Having identified the need for underwear as a key component to the success of the adoption of cloth pad use, together we created an easy-to-make pattern for adjustable-sized panties that could be made from factory offcuts. The process of using leftover wasted fabric and turning it underwear is where Transformation Textiles gets its name.

The panties have small strips of fabric in the gusset that can be used to hold simple cloth pads made of a combination of absorbent and waterproof fabrics, which can then be washed and re-used for years without creating disposable waste. msf Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

We got an ideal opportunity to test the products when I was approached by Canadian Anna Ebert of Good Hope Ministries in 2012, who had been working for many years in Malawi and had identified the need for personal hygiene supplies and requested enough for a staggering 50,000 girls. Until that point, Pads4Girls donations had been at most 500 kits at a time.

We settled on 10,000 kits as an initial test run, and set out to raise funds to cover shipping a container from Egypt to Malawi. The final landed cost per kit, each of which includes 3 pairs of panties, 9 pads and a carrying purse, is $5. Lunapads reached out to our community and raised $12,500, including $500 from our friend Danielle LaPorte, a highly influential author and speaker.

Celebrity support also came via talk show host and filmmaker Ricki Lake, who referred us to Marie Da Silva, Ricki’s former nanny. In 2002, Da Silva, a CNN Hero award recipient, founded the Jacaranda Foundation, a Malawi-based orphanage and school.

In an email response to my inquiry about the need for hygiene supplies at Jacaranda, Marie enthusiastically shared: “This is so amazing, because just last week I sat in a class of teenage girls who were being taught by a German volunteer about hygiene during their menstrual period. Remember these girls are orphans and do not have any kind of income to even buy the new piece of cloth. We have 400 Orphans at our school and 50% are girls. Most teenage girls in secondary school. Two days later I received your email and forwarded it to Julia who is the German volunteer. We could not believe it. There must have been some Angels listening in that classroom.”

group Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

Rachel set to work to make the kits, however because of political unrest in Egypt following the revolution of January 2011, the shipment was delayed by almost 2 years. At last the shipment has arrived in Mzuzu, Malawi earlier this year, and the distribution process has now begun! Thank you everyone who has been part of this amazing project, and stay tuned for more stories as the pad/panty kits are distributed throughout the remainder of 2014.

 

Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day with The DivaCup

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 by Lunapads Team

mhmday Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day with The DivaCup

Help us reach our goal of providing AFRIpads kits to 500 girls in East Africa. For the month of May, Diva International has generously agreed to boost our One4Her program to provide an entire AFRIpads kit for every DivaCup purchased at Lunapads.com. Already have a DivaCup? Then tell your friends! It’s time to make the switch or buy one for your friend today!

Menstrual Hygiene Day is on May 28, 2014, but we’ll be celebrating all month long by helping improve access to sustainable menstrual products for girls in East Africa. We’ve partnered with Diva International to expand our One4Her program and donate an AFRIpads kit (2 pads with 5 inserts, plus 1 carrying bag) for every DivaCup sold on Lunapads.com during the month of May. Each kit provides a girl with a sustainable supply of cloth pads to manage her period for over a year.

Since 2002, Lunapads has been operating Pads4Girls, a program that addresses an issue faced by hundreds of millions of girls and women in developing nations: missing school or work for several days every month because they lack adequate means to manage their periods. Providing girls with sustainable menstrual supplies is a simple yet highly effective way to give them a chance for a better future.

afripads Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day with The DivaCup

Taking our commitment a step further, in 2012 Lunapads partnered with AFRIpads, a social enterprise in Uganda, to create One4Her, where for every One4Her product sold online, Lunapads matches that purchase by financing the production and distribution of a Ugandan-made AFRIpad to a girl in East Africa.

The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) issue in the developing world is a complex one, where many product and educational options are being explored. What makes One4Her unique is that, in addition to providing a proven, easy-to-use, cost effective solution, it also supports employment in Africa. This is why Diva International has partnered with Lunapads & AFRIpads to provide cloth pads to girls in need.

Please help spread the word about the importance of MHM and tell your friends to make the switch to The DivaCup!

click to tweet: I just got a @DivaCup from @Lunapads. They’re donating @AFRIpads to a girl for every cup sold! http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

click to tweet: My @DivaCup purchase from @Lunapads helps girls stay in school. What does yr menstrual product do? http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

click to tweet: A @DivaCup 4me = @AFRIpads 4her. Get yrs at @Lunapads this month & make a difference for 500 girls http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

Healthy Periods: A Doctor’s Global Perspective

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by Guest

Guest blogger Saki Onda is a Masters of Public Health student in the global health department at the Harvard School of Public Health.

smbiophoto Healthy Periods: A Doctors Global Perspective

The ability to manage our menses safely, comfortably, and with dignity is a luxury that most women and girls in industrialized countries take for granted.

My personal experience with menstruation has always been a positive one – around the age of eight my mother sat me down to explain periods and cooked sekihan or ‘red rice’ when I did reach menarche. In my home country of Japan, this steamed sticky rice and azuki bean dish is prepared on special occasions that call for celebration – one of which is when a girl reaches menarche, although this custom is less frequently practiced nowadays.

Being of Japanese origin but having grown up in international communities in the U.S., France, and the U.K., I have become aware of varying attitudes, practices, and taboos towards menstruation. As a physician and current Master of Public Health student with a focus on reproductive health, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) has become an area of growing interest.

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AFRIpads & Lunapads: putting a ring on it

Friday, March 7th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s amazing timing that AFRIpads founders Paul Grinvalds and Sophia (Sonia) Klumpp have recently become engaged (hooray! we wish them every happiness), because we have some commitment news of our own: Lunapads has just become an official shareholder in AFRIpads.

afripadslunapartner AFRIpads & Lunapads: putting a ring on itMadeleine, Paul, Sonia & Suzanne meet in Uganda for the first time in 2012

Like most long-term relationships, you keep building it over time (in this case, since 2008), not really paying attention to all the incremental pieces of trust and co-creation that are taking place. And then from time to time it hits you that it’s actually something special that’s worth pausing to take stock of and celebrate: this is one of those moments.

Looking back at our over-20 year career as entrepreneurs, our relationship and visit with AFRIpads stands out as a high point. For those of you new to the story, the journey started in 2008 when Carrie-Jane Williams, then a UBC student, brought over some Lunapads kits to the Ugandan village where she was working on a literacy project. There she happened to meet Paul and Sonia, themselves also volunteers working on a development project, and showed them the pads she had left.

Paul and Sonia, for their part already having identified the issue of girls missing school due to lack of feminine hygiene products, were inspired to start their own business making pads modeled after Lunapads. They wrote to us to ask for our support, we said yes, and “off to the races” they went.

By the time we met Paul and Sonia and the AFRIpads team for the first time in January of 2012, they had 30 employees working in 2 facilities, and had supplied over 100,000 girls with AFRIpads kits. Since then their team has grown to over 60 and they have supplied over 250,000 girls with pad kits.  And, as new investors, we are beyond proud to be directly supporting the building of their new factory, which just broke ground this year!

Following our 2012 meeting, we decided to launch our One4Her partnership, whereby for each Lunapads One4Her product sold, AFRIpads are donated to girls in need in East Africa. To date, the One4Her program will have provided over 34,000 AFRIpads to thousands of girls: the largest distribution being 2,000 kits in Kibera, Kenya in October 2013.

While our relationship with AFRIpads’ most obvious benefit is providing girls with pads to support their school attendance, another key aspect is sustainable employment for local Ugandan women, and we have also been proud to support AFRIpads’ staff professional development.

Like getting married, becoming shareholders is a big step: but when it feels right – well, it just feels right. We’re excited for the future, knowing that we are stronger together.

Congratulations to everyone, and many, many happy returns!

Meet Rachel, our new Pads4Girls Intern!

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by Rachel

rachel Meet Rachel, our new Pads4Girls Intern!

Hi, I’m Rachel! I’m so excited to be the newest part of the Lunapads family. I’m especially happy about working with the Pads4Girls program as it encompasses so much of what I am passionate about.

I grew up in a small city in Alberta, and have often told people my entire personality is based on the fact that I am a middle child, since I have always tended towards peacemaking and conflict avoidance. I am a happy introvert content with being alone in my own thoughts, a book, or a nice hot beverage.

I grew up wanting to graduate from high school and become a stay at home Mom with copious amounts of children. Somewhere along the way, however, my desires grew and I longed for more experiences and adventure. I have since then studied and lived in Calgary, BC and Ottawa along with travelling to Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, England, Kenya, and many more states and provinces than I can count.

I went to Kenya in 2012 as a dream come true after years of studying Africa and desiring to one day visit. I went with my University and while there worked on a development project where we taught a local tailoring group how to make reusable feminine pads. Since I had minor sewing skills and a passion for women’s empowerment I was very excited about this project!

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Kitty’s 24 Birthday Wishes for Pads4Girls

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 by Kitty

mainphoto Kittys 24 Birthday Wishes for Pads4GirlsI have been a part of the Lunapads community for two years now, and throughout that time, I have witnessed countless people taking an active role in empowering girls in developing nations. Whether it be donations through AFRIpads, or distributions through personal travels, I have always itched to do my part. With this inspiration, partnered with the idea of charity birthdays, I dedicated my 23rd in raising 23 Pads4Girls kits. At the time, I had no idea which organization to direct the funds to and where to donate the pad kits. As life would have it, the opportunity came up for me to personally connect with and distribute these pad kits to girls living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The organization I worked with, Save Lives Ethiopia, is a not-for-profit which focuses on providing AIDS-stricken orphans of Ethiopia with a supportive and loving environment to live in. These kids are placed with family members, such as their aunts and uncle, and Save Lives will support the family and children with food, education, health care, and social support through regular check-ups from community nurses. The love and support from family members is so important in terms of shaping a child’s growth. This value was emphasized when I spoke with the Executive Director of Save Lives, Frehiwot Alebachew, and has resonated with me ever since.

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A LunaGal Abroad: Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 by Kitty

kittycollage A LunaGal Abroad: Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia

Photos, clockwise from top left: a) Wearing injera basket lids as hats and being silly with our really good friend, Sintayehu b) Part of the Arc Team during a weekend road trip en route to Debre Zeit. c) Learning how to weave from the ladies at Salem’s Design, a shop opened by a partner entrepreneur d) Proof I did indeed feed a hyena in Harar

In the summer of 2013, I traveled to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with a few fellow classmates of mine. The organization we traveled with, Arc Initiative connected us with small business owners and entrepreneurs of Ethiopia. I had the chance to learn about what they do, as well as exchange ideas on how run a business.

Gamesh Habesha, meaning “half Ethiopian” in Amharic, is a term I coined myself halfway through the trip. Due to my darker shade of Asian skin tone and my ability to blurt out a few Amharic phrases, locals often considered that idea. My team and I were often invited into people’s homes for coffee ceremony or dinner, and treated like I was part of the family. Even with the cultural difference, I felt like I was a local near the end of the trip. With so many memories to choose from, here are my top 5 highlights from the trip:

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Investing in the Girl Effect with Wedu and Lunapads

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 by Guest

maricapic Investing in the Girl Effect with Wedu and Lunapads

“It starts by standing with the poor.”

I had heard those words many times since I started volunteering with the Vancouver+Acumen chapter in 2009. By August of 2012, I was craving a new adventure and opportunity for hands on learning. So I joined a 6 month program with Wedu, whose mission is to catalyze the next generation of female leaders by providing access to higher education and support through mentorship.

There were a multitude of lessons and new adventures waiting for me when I landed in Bangkok, Thailand – the operational hub for the Wedu team. Within a month I launched the first iteration of the Mentorship Program. Wedu works with students from rural Cambodia and Myanmar and, it was through the Mentorship Program that I found myself with a new mentee.

She is a bright light in my life, and has been since the day I met her and her family. My visit to her small village was the first time I had ever seen true poverty first hand. Her family lived in a single room home that was elevated from the ground for protection during rainy season. They had one cow, one pig, and a couple chickens, and made their living off of their small rice field and mango trees. They had so little, and yet they gave everything. We had a beautiful meal that cost no less (and likely much more) than one month’s wages, and with hand gestures (as they spoke no English, and I spoke no Khmer), they told me over and over how grateful they were for the scholarship Wedu gave their daughter. She is the first person in her family to go to university. I told them that we were not to be thanked, as she earned her scholarship with her hard work and dedication to her studies. My visit was short and happy, and I smiled as we drove away the next day.

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One4Her: Eliminating Poverty with AFRIpads

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Madeleine

During a coaching session I had once upon a time I was asked what my favourite hobby is. I said gardening, and the Coach then asked what I had observed during my time in the garden that might be applicable to the rest of my life. “That everything takes its own time”, I replied. I thought of this when we received this video of a recent One4Her distribution of 2,000 AFRIpads kits in Kibera, Kenya.

Going back through my email to discover just how long we have been talking to Judy Craig from Eliminate Poverty Now tells me that not only has our conversation been going on for close to four years, but moreover that in its course it has built a quality of deep and mutual respect. Without getting into all the ins and outs, bit by bit by bit we have exchanged ideas and contacts without really having a sense of what our goal was. But we kept going, and now we have some great news for you.

The other very notable long-term player and relationship in this story is AFRIpads, who go back to 2008. The consistent features? Trust, communication, and willingness to keep supporting, answering questions, making suggestions – even when we didn’t know what we were going to “get out of it” (the expression feels ludicrous given how much goodwill exists between all of us!).

In Judy’s words, this is what you get: “We had an intensely moving day. You get a sense of it from the girls’ faces. For me, the high point was when one of the girls asked whether there would be clotheslines to dry the pads on at secondary school. She clearly intended to go to secondary school – and we know that having the pads will help her achieve that goal. But just as clearly, she had no personal experience of what secondary school would be like. Probably, she’ll be the first child in her family – or in her neighborhood – to go to secondary school. And we are helping to make that happen. How lucky are we to be able to help someone transform their life that way?