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Imagine a room filled with girls who do not know why they menstruate or where the blood comes from that soils their clothing so heavily that they are too embarrassed to attend school. This is 2016 and we are in villages in rural Laos and Cambodia. With the support of NGO's Green Umbrella, Khmer women are being trained to sew sustainable hygienic sanitary kits to be distributed to women and girls in Cambodia and Laos. This project aims to reduce absenteeism for secondary school girls while providing dignity to the lives of women and girls in socially impoverished villages.
Women trained in sewing the sanitary kits at Green Umbrella, Cambodia
Recently after running a Women's Wellness Workshop we conducted a survey to really understand what women understood about menstruation. The results indicated that the majority of women (70% surveyed) in the targeted socially disadvantaged rural areas did not know or understand why they menstruated. They also indicated they did not have the resources to hygienically care for themselves when menstruating and this had impacted their health, and education in different ways; most notably absenteeism from school.
The secondary girls who are sponsored on the Lotus program
This campaign aims to provide sustainable feminine hygiene solutions for girls in socially disadvantaged regions so that they too can contribute to the livelihood of their communities in productive ways; especially where future generations of women are concerned. Through the NGO, Green Umbrella in Cambodia, women have been trained to sew and prepare the sanitary kits for distribution to girls in Laos and Cambodia in September. The trial packs have been introduced to girls through workshops and mentors will be skilled to support the successful implementation of the kits at both the village and school levels. It is intended to produce another 100 packs by September so that all the Lotus girls in Laos and their mothers will receive a sustainable hygienic sanitary pack. But we need help to purchase materials; the labor and distribution services are voluntary.
Lotus girls learning about menstruation with Dr Denise Nesbitt during a recent workshop in Laos.
Help Us Bring Change
Our sanitary pads are made from absorbent cotton fabric and have cotton wings that fasten securely around the underwear to hold the pad in place. It is hoped that the pads will have a lifespan of three years, hence the importance of the environmental sustainability factor. As many women and girls surveyed currently have no access to sanitary supplies these kits are viewed as a much appreciated necessity in their daily lives.
Empowering at the local level is vital to the success of our campaign
What's In A Pack?
The packs will be introduced through workshops at both the school and village level where mentors will be trained to educate the women and girls about the importance of hygiene during menstruation and how to care for their sanitary packs.
It only costs 10 USD, 10 AUD, 350 THB to purchase one sanitary pack for one girl. Your donation provides her with a life-changing opportunity, similar to what girls in our communities have access to every month. You are allowing girls to menstruate in a hygienic and and continue to live their lives in a normal, dignified way.
WHAT'S IN A PACK?
2 plastic ziploc bags
1 unscented soap
2 washable sanitary napkins
6 washable sanitary liners
1 small towel
2 pairs of underpants
1 cotton drawstring bag
Washable sustainable hygienic sanitary napkin and liner