Menstruation is a vexing problem for women and girls in poor countries worldwide.
It is also a taboo subject in many societies, which means little has been done to provide an effective product for women instead of the old rags, bark and leaves they’ve been using, or disposal pads they can’t afford.
Local nonprofit World Dance for Humanity is bringing a sustainable solution — reusable cloth pads — to the women the group works with in Rwanda.
Here’s how the Pad Project began: Last July, before leaving for Rwanda, the World Dancers visited Direct Relief International to pick up a few boxes of hygiene and personal-care products for the communities they are helping.
Inside the boxes were 60 Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pad Kits designed by the nonprofit Days for Girls and handmade by DRI volunteers.
Each Pad Kit contained a set of soft flannel pads, two shields with a protective liner that holds the pads in place, soap, washcloth, underwear, and plastic bags for washing the pads — all packaged together in a beautiful drawstring bag.
The World Dancers delivered the kits and were amazed at the response: The women were thrilled, literally screaming with excitement when they saw how the pads worked, and that they anchored in place with a snap.
(Pad delivery video: https://goo.gl/BhgPkF.)
The women tried the reusable cloth pads for a while, and reported back on how much they liked them.
The World Dancers knew they had a winning solution, and their Rwanda Team talked with the Rwandan women about producing the pads themselves.
In December, four of the young village women that World Dance works with stepped forward to lead the project in their own communities. By February, they were attending a two-week Days for Girls training course in Uganda.
They loved the course, and learned much about pad-making, soap-making, marketing the pads, and about women’s reproductive health and hygiene.
In March, they met with World Dance for Humanity’s Rwanda staff to plan their next steps in launching the Pad Project in their communities.
Meanwhile, World Dance called the Carpinteria Community Church Crafty Ladies sewing group about making the Pad Kits, and they jumped on board. They’ve already sewn 50 sets of pads and liners.
The Feminist Club at Santa Barbara City College is planning a Pad Party to assemble and raise funds for the kits.
What started as a simple gift from Direct Relief has turned into a very special collaborative project between American and Rwandan women, working together to change the lives of women and girls in a fundamental way.
To see the pads in person, stop by the World Dance booth at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival Saturday and Sunday at Alameda Park. For $5, you can sponsor a kit for a Rwandan woman, and include a personal note to her.
Visit www.World DanceforHumanity.org to learn how to get involved in the Pad Project.
To view other videos on the subject, visit:
World Dance for Humanity is a dance class, a humanitarian-aid organization, and a community of women working to change lives and ease suffering in the world.
All class proceed go to World Dance's work in Rwanda, where they are helping 8,400 people lift themselves out of poverty. World Dance also helps out in our own community, working with disadvantaged children at Westside Boys and Girls Club.
— Janet Reineck for World Dance for Humanity.