This post is about so many things: walking the talk, making dreams reality, friendship without borders, and the pure power of inspiration. Regular readers will recall Pads4Oprah, our plan to donate 400 AFRIpads kits to girls in South Africa in honour of Oprah’s visit to Vancouver in January.
Oprah came and went and didn’t call, however this did little to dampen our spirits, especially with the prospect of a 400 kit distribution on the horizon. So here we are again with the next, arguably most impactful chapter of this story: what happened with those 400 kits.
Join us for an evening of celebration and storytelling with special guest Danielle Hoogenboom. Danielle has just returned from Jamaica where she deepened her relationship with Sister Jackie, an amazing woman running a home for marginalized children and teens. Through Lunapads, Danielle was connected with a local donor who financed the gifting of 20 Pads4Girls kits to girls in Sister Jackie’s community.
When: Friday May 24, 7pm (join us at 6:30 for snacks and socializing!) Where: Lunapads International, 3433 Commercial Street Vancouver BC V5N 4E8 (map) RSVP to:firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Facebook event page
LunaCircles are events sponsored by Lunapads that create a safe space for conversation and exploration of how we connect with our fertility cycles.
In this special evening we will:
♦ Share about our personal journeys with our cycles
♦ Participate in a guided meditation
♦ Hear about Danielle’s journey and its connection to Lunapads and Pads4Girls, as well as honour the women and girls in both Canada and Jamaica and the roles they played in bringing this project to fruition
♦ Learn about natural menstrual product options, including Lunapads, Lunapanties and the DivaCup (special prices will be in effect during the event!)
(Madeleine’s note) Right from the first moment that I started talking with Danielle Hoogenboom I knew that I had discovered a kindred spirit: a passionate woman unafraid to take risks to create change (she also teaches wicked yoga!). When she told me about her experiences in Jamaica and asked to bring Pads4Girls kits to a group of 20 marginalized girls that she knew there, I didn’t hesitate, and also received the almost-immediate blessing of a neighbour friend offering to finance it (Thank you Tasha!). Here is Danielle’s story of the trip:
I recently went to Jamaica to teach in Kingston and run my Yin Yoga retreat and training at a small family run space in the hills. I brought a handful of students, a talented sound healer and of course my Diva Cup (I never travel without it!) for two weeks of yin yoga study and rest (yes, we are going back next year, join us!)
I approached Lunapads about a donation from Pads4Girls, an amazing project that helps empower young woman thru planet sensitive cotton reusable products. I was really interested in bringing Lunapads to a group of girls and new mothers in Discovery Bay. Last year when I was in Jamaica I met Sister Jackie and her collective family at the fittingly self proclaimed ‘House of Love’ and wanted to support her dedication and her huge heart for the work she was been doing for nearly her whole life. This woman has an amazing story.
Sister J is an incredible woman to be in the presence of. So much heart, so much love; you must be full of faith and spirit to do this work. This woman has 14 children with her on the regular, 2 of them wheelchair bound and 4 of them HIV positive. The House of Love is Jackie’s small home, well known safe haven for hungry kids, young moms, those orphaned to AIDS, kids whose parents were murdered, young girls raped by family members and then kicked out for being pregnant.
What do you get when you mix women, their thoughts and interests, and WordPress? So many things, however what’s on my mind as one lasting impression is that cowboy boots look fantastic with skirts and dresses. Maybe it’s because two of the three organizers of Blissdom were wearing exactly this type of getup on stage at the end: they were crying and embracing and looking absolutely kick-ass, tears and all.
I had actually wondered at a few junctures what the real benefits of having a women-only blogger conference were. None of the workshops had anything at all to do with gender (after all, one does not operate a camera or computer differently depending on gender), so what was the point? And yet, in this poignant final moment, seeing the organizers together, something in me understood.
Technology has of course redefined the way we all work, however in the case of women and especially Mothers, I feel like it’s offered us a “third path”, one that intersects parenthood and paid work in a novel way that allows greater flexibility for the former and creativity for the latter. A further reinforcement arrived via the news of a tech conference incident where a woman tweeted about some offensive comments she heard from some male participants: Blissdom would harbour no such sentiments.
So what did I learn at Blissdom? As is typically the case, not exactly what I expected. I went in thinking that I would hone my writing skills, and came away with a deep appreciation for the immense passion and creativity of those who pursue blogging for a living, or even as a hobby.
In many ways, identifying myself as a blogger is a bit of a luxury – for any of you under the impression that it’s actually me or Suzanne tweeting for @lunapads (hello Morgan!) or sharing on Facebook (hello Lisa!), it’s actually dedicated staff members (who do a far better job of it while we’re figuring out how to keep the plane in the air, as it were ;-). I get help with everything from content ideas to photo editing, all without having to go out and secure advertisers or sponsors.
We were thrilled to bring this incredible opportunity to Paul and Sonia, and we had long conversations about how best to direct the funds. While at first we were drawn to the obvious idea – donating more pads to girls in need – Paul and Sonia, smart leaders that they are, also identified the need to build staff morale and skills for longer-term growth and impact. Most of their staff have never traveled outside of their home villages, and had never received the benefit of any business training or education. The decision was made to focus on building the team’s experience as workers and businesspeople.
Hi all! My name is Kitty, and I’ve been crunching numbers as the bookkeeper at Lunapads for just over a year now. On my own time, I’m studying Accounting and Sustainability at UBC. I also love painting, playing the piano, practicing yoga, nomnomnom-ing, and playing dodgeball dressed as Wenda– as you can tell by my picture.
February 14th, 2013 marks my 23rd birthday. It’s also the day of “looovee”– Valentines Day! Blessed by loving family and friends, and inspired by all the wonderful women I have met in the Lunapads world, I wish to share this blessing with girls in developing countries.
Everyday, thousands of girls miss school when they are on their menstrual cycles. Why? Many of them can’t afford the conventional disposal sanitary products. This year, I will be donating my birthday in hopes of raising 23 cloth pad kits (or more!) for girls in developing countries so that they can stay in school and live a more empowered life. Not only are they the more sustainable solution, they also last for over five years!
I know, making 23 birthday wishes is a bit greedy, but birthdays only come around once a year — so please take part in making my wishes come true! Visit our secure donation page and designate your gift to my 23 Birthday Wishes fund. Thanks so much, everyone!
What with all the buzz we have been generating with the #Pads4Oprah campaign, we are getting asked this a lot now. And the answer is… not yet. And what I’m realizing is that whether “she calls” or not is not the point – the real learning and gifts actually lie elsewhere. Here they are:
We got to see her live!!! Who would have imagined this was possible? Plus, interviewer George Stroumboulopoulos (one of our favourite CBC TV personalities) did a fantastic job providing some insights into the person behind Oprah. She really is all that and more.
The love, the love, the love!!! Over dinner before the show, I said how blown away I was by all the support that we have been shown, and Suzanne replied, “You know, I think that we really underestimate just how much respect there is out there for what we do.” Looking over all the photos and the hundreds of tweets and shares of our Pads4Oprah video has been a powerful reminder of what an incredible community we have supporting us.
Powerful lessons and reminders. One of the most inspiring things that Oprah shared with us in her talk was this: “Your life is validated by the service you give to the world.” We have the incredible privilege of being clear on our purpose and aligned with our gifts and values. Lunapads has always been about being of service to women and the planet, and Pads4Girls about creating a different future for girls and women in the developing world.
Thank you Oprah, for sharing your amazing gifts and inspiration with us. We’ll keep you updated about the pad donation and look forward to talking whenever it works for you!
Given that this shipment is so big I am having trouble imagining it (I invite you to picture a 40-foot shipping container filled with giant rain barrels which are in turn filled with 25,000 pairs of panties and 20,000 pads, plus enough fabric for several thousand more – or just watch the video!), it’s not a great surprise that our schedule for this Pads4Girls/Transformation Textiles project has gotten a bit off-kilter. Well, that and some, political, er….turbulence in Egypt, where the container originated.
No matter. When you are working with people as determined as the Anna Eberts and Rachel Starkeys of this world, things will get done: and so this one has. I am thrilled to announce that the container has left Alexandria and will arrive in Dar es Salaam in a few weeks, from where it be transported overland to Malawi. The final distributions will take place over several months.
One partner that we are particularly excited to reach is Marie Da Silva, the founder of the the Jacaranda Foundation and Orphanage. Marie was introduced to us personally by Ricki Lake, for whom Marie worked as a nanny for several years. Today the orphanage houses, feeds and educates 400 children, half of whom are girls. When I initially contacted Marie about the need for pads at Jacaranda, this is what she said:
“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. Must have been some Angels listening in that classroom.”
Thank you so much to all of you who spread the word and donated to make this possible. Special shout-outs for above-and-beyondness are due to Danielle LaPorte, whose generosity coupled with her celebrity social media power in turn inspired Amanda Beisel of SKN Holistic Skincare and Eve Ford to cut big cheques and encourage others to do the same. Susan Tam, Managing Director & Empire Builder for “Golden Threads” has also been working hard to manage fundraising and logistics for Transformation Textiles in Canada, as well as Rachel’s amazing team at Cottontales in Egypt.
Next stop, Malawi! Stay posted for more news as this amazing story unfolds.
Trying to get Oprah’s attention is no small feat, but we are giving it our best shot! In addition to our quick video, here is a list of why we feel our story is a great fit for her. Please share widely!!!
1) We are the real deal. We didn’t just wake up a couple of months ago and decide to be groovy entrepreneurs making awesome green products that help women to feel fantastic about their bodies – we have been doing it for years. We have given speeches, won awards, and inspired hundreds to find new ways to make a difference in the world. Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of women in 40 countries who use Lunapads, over 1 million disposable pads and tampons are diverted from landfills every month.
2) We are different. We have chosen to work in a field that lots of people still find a bit challenging – but that is what makes us awesome. We could have chosen a million products to sell: we chose reusable menstrual products because they change women’s lives in a unique way that impacts our health, self-esteem and environment. We’ve dedicated our careers to taking on this important issue.
3) We are having a unique and meaningful impact on girls in the developing world. 12 years ago we became aware of something that most people still don’t realize: that many girls and women in the developing world lack access to feminine hygiene products, with devastating results. Our Pads4Girls and One4Her programs have reached over 120,000 girls in 15 countries to date.
4) Periods matter. Menstruation is not gross. It is not an inappropriate conversation topic. In fact, how we treat and talk about it makes a difference in how we respect and understand our bodies. It is a powerful reminder of our “inner Goddess” and her amazing connection to Nature’s larger cycles (think tides, seasons and of course the cycles of the Moon). Our periods are how we came into this world!
5) We are all about body positivity and self-acceptance. When we get more ok with our periods, we get more ok with our cycles. When we get more ok with our cycles, we get more ok with our bodies. When we get more ok with our bodies, we have better self esteem and become more accepting of not only ourselves but of others, regardless of race, class, age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, or size. Let’s share the love!
If I had a dollar for every time someone said “You guys should be on Oprah!“, I’d need a big wheelbarrow. Well, here’s hoping she’s listening: Oprah is coming to Vancouver, and to celebrate we are donating 400 AFRIpads kits to girls in South Africa!
We are huge fans of Oprah’s message and interests, especially when it comes to supporting education for girls in the developing world. For the past 12 years Lunapads, via our Pads4Girls program, has provided girls in 15 countries with essential, sustainable supplies to help them get the education they need to change their lives – and maybe even the world. Here’s a recent example (in South Africa, home of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, it so happens!)
And what about the topic of periods, for that matter? Oprah has courageously led the conversation on so many aspects of health, self-acceptance and personal growth – wouldn’t you love for her to have “the Oprah period talk”? Girls in the developing world are not the only ones who need support when it comes to taking the shame and mystery out of menstruation: Western girls and women in the “developed” world need it too, and we can’t think of anyone better that Oprah to champion a new, enlightened approach to how we talk about this vital aspect of our health and fertility.
Last but not least, how about making a Pads4Girls donation as part of the #Pads4Oprah campaign? For as little as $10 you can help a girl to “Live Her Best Life.” We’ll be sure to check back in to let you now how it’s going. Cross your fingers and toes, and thank you again for your support!