Archive for the ‘Pads4Girls’ Category

Investing in the Girl Effect with Wedu and Lunapads

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 by Guest


“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


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


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.


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.


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


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!

Eliminate Poverty Now with One4Her

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 by Guest

The excerpt below is reposted via Eliminate Poverty Now. Read their full update here:

Lunapads is donating 2,000 kits of washable sanitary pads to 2,000 girls in the Kibera slum! These girls are all enrolled in programs covering sex education and gender empowerment in addition to their regular school work. The generosity of Lunapads even extends to covering the shipping costs for the pads, which are being made from environmentally friendly fabrics.

This means that 2,000 girls will be able to stay in school, something that will give them so many more opportunities for the future. A donation of this magnitude changes many lives–not just those of the girls receiving the kits, but also the lives of their family members.


If you’re not already familiar with Lunapads, check out what they are all about here. You will see how EPN has been inspired by them with our Pads for Peace project. The founder of Lunapads, Madeleine Shaw, has been extremely supportive and generous, acting as a mentor to Judy and sharing her intellectual property as EPN worked on Pad for Peace.

We cannot thank Madeleine and her team enough for their amazing support.

Distribution of the kits will take place through AFRIPads in July, when John and Judy are visiting Kenya. We will have more news and pictures to share at that time.

We hope you will consider joining Madeleine and Lunapads in helping us change lives for these girls. A gift as small as $10 can make a difference.

epnlogoAbout Eliminate Poverty NowMuch has been written about aid to Africa being counterproductive, especially when large sums are given at the national level. Aid, the argument goes, kills initiative and promotes dependence and corruption.

Eliminate Poverty Now is not in the aid business. We focus on investment. We believe in helping people help themselves to improve their lives through their own initiative and hard work. All of our investments are made at the local level and with partners who take direct responsibility for successful project implementation.

Pads4Oprah: BOOM!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 by Madeleine

pads4oprah header

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.

At Lunapads we love our social media, and so we promptly created a #Pads4Oprah bandwagon, making a video appeal and enlisting support from friends and fans to spread the word in the hope that we might catch Oprah’s attention. It was so much fun, and best of all we got to actually hear her speak right here in Vancouver. So far, so awesome.

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.


Pads4Girls Jamaica LunaCircle May 24th!

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

P4G Jamaica

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: 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!)

Blessings, and hope to see you soon!

Red Sisters: Pads4Girls Jamaica

Friday, May 10th, 2013 by Guest

(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 I learned at Blissdom

Monday, March 25th, 2013 by Madeleine


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.