Archive for the ‘Pads4Girls’ Category

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.


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!


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.


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:


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.


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?

Meet WASH shero Rebecca Fishman

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 by Madeleine

washadvocates Meet WASH shero Rebecca Fishman

As part of our work with Pads4Girls, we get to meet and learn about other leaders and programs working to address education for girls in the developing world. We recently had the pleasure of connecting with Rebecca Fishman, the Operations & Special Projects Director for WASH Advocates, a nonpartisan and nonprofit initiative based in Washington, DC whose mission is to increase awareness of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues and solutions and to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources devoted to those solutions throughout the developing world.

This type of work is often a personal calling, and so we thought it would be interesting to learn more about Rebecca’s personal story and how she got involved with WASH and MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management).

Tell us about your job…

I oversee our women and gender portfolio and focus on strengthening the capacity of national WASH advocacy efforts, networks, and female leadership. I look for creative ways to get people thinking and talking about why WASH is so important to women and girls by emphasizing linkages to economic empowerment, gender-based violence, health (including menstrual hygiene!), and education.

What inspired you to pursue a career in development work, and WASH in particular?


Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

Friday, June 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

image3 Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

A beautiful report from our friends at imagine1day – wow! We are so thrilled to be able to support their amazing work building schools and empowering students in Ethiopia.

Dear Suzanne & Madeleine,

I trust that you both are well and flourishing in all that you’re up to. We continue to be buoyed by the contribution that you’re both being to the community here in Vancouver and beyond. It is truly inspirational to watch you in action!

I’m writing to give you an update on how the girls of our Graduate Fund high school scholarship program are doing, and share some great news about this year’s program.

Over the past 2 years, Lunapads has become an incredibly important partner for imagine1day in that your contribution has directly correlated to our Graduate Fund girls being able to focus on their education and thrive in the classroom without worrying about their menstrual cycle interfering. We are so happy to report that the girls of Class 2015 and 2016 are all excelling in their Grade 9 & 10 studies, with the exception of one student who has taken some time away to deal with some personal issues. That’s 41 girls in the midst of blossoming into their full leadership potential.

41girls Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

We have recently completed the selection process for our Class 2017 scholarship students, who will be starting their high school journey with us this September. The amazing news is that we’ve been able to increase the number of scholarships to 60 in total, 47 of which are girls. All of the students are buzzing with excitement, and are grateful for the opportunity to continue their education beyond Grade 8. 14 year old Nigisti Yisfaw (pictured below) is one of the girls who is particularly enthusiastic about her short walk to school, given the challenges she has faced in the past.

nigisti Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

The girls will be starting school again in September this year, and we would train them to use the pads as part of the Life Skill Training we offer to help them settle into their new lives living away from their families to attend high school. These girls do not have ubiquitous access to underwear, so the kits with undies in them are ideal.

Many many thanks,

Michelle & the imagine1day team

Jeeti’s Cloth Pad Legacy

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 by Madeleine

jeeti Jeetis Cloth Pad Legacy

Madeleine’s note: Jeeti is one of our Vancouver sister entrepreneurs, whose company, To Desire, creates incredible shawls and wraps made of luxurious fabric that are basically wearable art pieces. She is also passionately devoted to girls’ and women’s freedom from violence. Getting to know her and her business has been an honour!

Jeeti’s story: When I first heard of Lunapads I was immediately reminded of a story when my mother was a teenager. I had the honour of meeting with the Madeleine and could not resist sharing my mother’s tale of how women in India dealt with their period back in the day.

My mother was born in northern India in 1946. When she got her first period, my mother’s older sister ripped off a piece of cloth from a cotton duvet cover and gave it to my mother to use as a pad. From that day onward my mother would cut out a rectangular piece from the old duvet cover, fold it over a few times and placed it in her underwear as a sanitary pad. Once that piece soiled she would cut out a new one. The soiled cloth would be discarded and buried in the dump outside of her house; making sure it was well hidden so the men and children wouldn’t see it. After she got married things became a little difficult. There was no outside dump nearby. She had to keep all of the soiled cloth pieces hidden inside the house and dispose of them in the fields when it was dark.

The length of these sanitary cloth pieces was similar to modern day pads. My grandmother (on my mother’s side) on the other hand, used to wear her sanitary cloth pieces longer so she could tuck the front and back end of the cloth into the drawstring of her sulwaar (pants). Every single piece of old worn out cotton clothing including duvet covers, pillow cases, men’s pajamas, women’s blouses and scarves were valuable to menstruating women and were never thrown away. They were tucked away safe for later menstrual use. It may be hard to believe but there are many women in developing countries that currently use same or similar methods as my mother had, to deal with their periods.

I left my meeting with Madeleine feeling inspired and full of joy knowing there are genuine women entrepreneurs who are changing lives of women like my mother. Lunapads makes it their social responsibility to provide menstrual pads to women across the globe through its Pads4Girls program so girls can go to school and women can go to work during their period.  Thank you Lunapads for empowering women globally!