Sanitary pads for female students

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For many girls at Notre Dame High School, going to school during a monthly menstrual cycle is not possible without feminine hygiene products such as sanitary pads. Disposable pads are expensive and many simply cannot afford these.

There are alternative options for making reusable, cloth sanitary pads. For this task, we would like your input and information on different options available so that we can explore a solution that can be easily implemented with the girls at our school.

There was a lot of discussion on this issue in Kabondo village at http://www.nabuur.com/en/village/kabondo/project/task/feminine-hygiene-p...
They hope to make their own pads in the future, both for the orphans, also possibly as a source of income.

They have received some ready-made pads from a US organisation called Goods4Girls - http://www.goods4girls.org/
I will send Barb (Kabondo facilitator) an email and see if she knows whether they are likely to be able to assist Masaka and, if so, what the application process is.

Barb also put a good summary of patterns etc in Jinja Central at as they were also looking at this (think their task in on hold at the moment). That task is at http://www.nabuur.com/en/village/jinja-central/project/task/feminine-hyg...

For future reference, I am copying her summary here too, and attaching the associated documents

QUOTE

Barb Briggs
Re: Feminine Hygiene Products
Sat, 2008/03/15 - 20:58

Hi Paul,

Here is the brochure I put together as well as two patterns and links to some patterns/instructions. I have also included a questionnaire that you may be interested in using to see what effect the this will have on the girls.

http://www.geocities.com/mytafadhali/mommypads.htm

http://www.geocities.com/thixle/diypads_tutorial.html

http://www.diapersewing.com/clothpads.htm

http://howto.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_make_a_reusable_menstrual_pad

http://www.geocities.com/autumn_sylver/cloth_pads_tutorial.html

http://healthhomehappy.blogspot.com/2008/02/make-cloth-menstrual-pad.htm...

http://www.tinybirdsorganics.com/organiccotton/clothpads.html

http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/crafts/pads/pads.html

Barb

END QUOTE

There was also discussion under one of the other Masaka tasks about low cost disposable pads being made in Uganda. I will find that and post it here too.

Mary

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As promised, the information on a source of lower-cost disposable pads, developed by Makerere University in Kampala. They are called Makapads

On 17 September, Christopher wrote:

QUOTE

....During the process of building the 1st phase of the toilet here,another friend was sent to supervise the work,and she looked at the need for the girls at our school.

Most of the girls at our school,cannot afford to provide for themselves sanitary pads. Girls at times have to use rags or unclean clothes during their periods. She advised that at makerere university,in Uganda some people have invented making of sanitary pads from perpilises at alow cost.

We noted that such thing may be a common cause for most girls especailly those from poor homes. She promissed to help and where possible to find somebody to fund our girls to have the pads. She said it may require 300 or 400 pounds per year for a school like ours."

END QUOTE

My reply at the time

QUOTE

I have heard of those papyrus sanitary pads before - it got quite a bit of publicity as they have been finalists/award winners in a couple of competitions.

http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/html/project07_hygeine.html

http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=5264&catid=510&typeid=24&subMen...

http://www.ugpulse.com/articles/daily/homepage.asp?ID=549

The UN Habitat article says
"Apart from producing safe and cheap sanitary pads, other project achievements include development of simple cottage machines which are locally manufactured and that use more than 95% local materials. It has so far provided employment and skills development opportunities to women, girls and men, working at different Makapads sub-processes."

I have no idea how/where the university are setting up production sites but if its on a small scale, maybe you could investigate whether it would be practical to make them in Masaka as a source of income for the school.

END QUOTE

Christopher, Is your friend still looking into funding possibilties for either disposable or reusable pads?

Mary

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Our Friend is coming back this wensday to suppervise the building of the water tank and we shall have a chance to descuss this over.

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Hi Christopher

Hope the visit and tank construction went well. Was your friend able to provide any more information/assistance with the sanitary pads?

Mary

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YES,mary,the friend came.
All went well and she was even able to talk to the female pupils about personal hygeine ,sanitation and more in relation to girls monthly periods.
However,she has not yet got any body to help with this issue.
She directed us to one Persom who did event the sanitary pads for low cost.We next year we are to buy some for the very very poor for our pupils,in case we get the money.
Tank building is soon to be completed.
Thank any that has contributed in any form to our Village.

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Dear Friends,this works to inform you that this weekend,we are to carry out a charity walk for the fundrising of further funds for our girls dormetory .
We request for your prayers so that all goes well and as expected and as planned.
Any other peroson with a contribution towards our goal is highly welcome.
I will not post any message on nabuur as all of us will be very buzy,until next week
Christopher
LR Masaka Village

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Hi Christopher

I really hope the walk goes well!

Am also pleased to see that your friend's visit was successful - I guess that finding money for pads is going to need to be prioritised along with the various other needs you have. Do you know how much it is likely to cost? If there is a way to solve it for a year or so, maybe by then you will have various income generating activities in place which will be able to cover ongoing costs like this.

Mary

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Hi Christopher

I know you are hoping to get hold of low-cost disposable pads for the school (any update on that?), but thought you may be interested to read an update on the reusable pads being tried out by students and teachers in Kabondo

http://www.nabuur.com/en/village/kabondo/project/task/feminine-hygiene-p...

QUOTE

Barb Briggs
Re: Feminine Hygiene Products for the Female Orphans
Sat, 2008/12/27 - 17:59

Hi Everyone,

Just an update on this project. I recently chatted with Eric and this is what he had to say regarding the follow-up on the sanitary pads sent in July:

"I talked to the headmistress of Oriang girls school and the girls about the response of the girls towards the sanitary towels and she said the girls were impressed though some said it should be a bit more thicker for better absorption. Some said it leaked slightly on the sides. I don't know whether this has to do with thickness or improper use. i will find out. Overall the girls reported that it is good because one need not have to worry about money every month. They were also of the opinion thato ne should have an average of 3 or 5 pads to be able to efficiently manage the flow.

At Got Rateng; primary where two teachers also took the towels to try out, the response was very good. The techers and the pupils feel this is a good project addressing a very critical need in the community. What was reported here was poor cleaning of the towels after use but all were in agreement that it properly managed their menstrual flow.

I think this is a good project that should go on because ultimately it may be what will keep girls in school all school days."

It would be good to move to the next phase of teaching the girls how to make their own pads.

Barb

END QUOTE

So they are proving to be quite successful, which is good to see. I thought I would post in case this is an option you consider for Notre Dame in the future.

Mary

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I think that there should be more education on personal hypiene in their health classes.

--
A.T.

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Hi A.T.

Welcome to Masaka, we are very happy that you have decided to join he discussion! I have sent you an invitation to join the village as a neighbour. If you decide to join you will get notifications of new posts to the village when you sign into Nabuur. Please have a look around the various tasks and join in with any that interest you.

I agree with you that it is very important for everyone at the school (boys as well as girls) to receive education on personal hygiene at school. Christopher, I think you wrote somewhere that this is happening already?

Mary

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Dear friends,
We got a donation of Ug.shs 80.000/=that we have used to buy sanitary pads for female girls for our school.
The low cost pads have been bought at makerere university...100 in one box.
They have been delivered but they are not enough.
We had wanted to educate and then give to the day section.
But it has even brought confussion,all want as few have had chance to ever use them.
Each girl can use 3 packets in a term { one packet contains 10 pieces}
We request more contribution on this matter as its very important.
Christopher
LR
MASAKA VILLAGE

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A quick update after chatting with Christopher earlier:

The school would like to provide Makapads (low-cost disposable pads) to all the girls at the school who need them. Some might be able to afford to buy them if the school can obtain them cheaply, but the majority will not, so the school will need to provide them to those students for no cost.

I am still awaiting confirmation on exactly how many girls require pads. Some girls will need underwear too as they don't have any.

Christopher is interested in looking at the possibility of making reusable cloth pads at the school. I will email him the patterns that have been posted on here. There is a teacher at the school who should be able to make some so that a few girls can try them and see how successful they are.

If this works well, some of the girls could be taught to make them and maybe it could also become a source of income for the school, although they would need to do some research on costs and likely local interest first.

The students (both girls and boys) have received education about menstruation, so both groups now understand why the girls need pads. Some boys have also requested underwear, this may be something to look at in the future.

Mary

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Hi Christopher

Is there any progress on this?

If you are stil interested in the idea of reusable pads, you might be interested to see the update on the trial run in Kabondo village in Kenya. As you can see from the presentation, the majority of the girls were pleased with the pads as it enabled them to attend school. See http://www.nabuur.com/en/village/kabondo/project/task/feminine-hygiene-p...

I have also found a group called Afri Pads who are making reusable pads in Masaka district http://www.afripads.com/
They are starting to distribute these to primary and secondary schools in the district, along with providing the children with education about menstruation. The cost appears to be $1.50 per kit.
Distribution details http://www.afripads.com/Afri-Pads/Distribution.html
If you would like more details, I would suggest you call or email them. Ugandan contact information is at http://www.afripads.com/Afri-Pads/Contact_Us.html

Mary

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Dear Mary,
Thank you very much for the information.
I will try to communicate.
Christopher

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Hi Christopher

Did you get in touch with AfriPads?

I also posted about them to Kisozi village and Esther (facilitator) contacted them and got the following reply (which I should have posted here at the time - sorry!)

http://www.nabuur.com/en/village/kisozi/project/task/reusable-sanitary-p...

Quote:
This is the response I got from Afripads:

Dear Hope Alive Uganda,

Attn. Eddy Kiirya Mpoya & Esther Haaisma

Thank you very much for your interest in our
product.. We have looked at your
website and read about your project and want to say that we are very impressed
with your work. It seems that you
are truly making a difference for so many orphans and vulnerable people in your
area.

We appreciate your interest in both
obtaining 100 Afri-Pads Kits and also using our example to run a
micro-enterprise as an income-generating project in your village. But there are a
few things that we need
to explain about Afri-Pads before we go any further:

Firstly – although we do have a “Donate Now”
page on our website, we accept western donors to purchase pads and donate them
in Uganda on a very small scale.
Donations only comprise 5% of our business, with the rest coming from
direct sales to NGOs, CBOs and other organizations. Therefore, at this point in
time we cannot donate any pads
to your organization; however, we can
provide you with Afri-Pads Menstrual Kits at an extremely low cost of 5,000
UGX/package. The lifespan of our
product is one full year (12 menstrual cycles), therefore we are making them
available to you at 1/6th the price of
disposable pads (1 year supply).
Selling our products, as opposed to donating them, is a essential for us
in order to maintain a sustainable business operation. As such, if your
organization is interested in supplying Afri-Pads Menstrual Kits to your
beneficiaries, they are available for purchase at 5,000 UGX/package. We would be
thrilled to have your
business.

Secondly – as an incorporated business with
shareholders and more importantly, with a patented design, we cannot go ahead
and encourage other groups (albeit small-scale) to start manufacturing our
product. Furthermore, to be
sincere, small-scale reusable pad operations are simply are not
income-generating. Production
costs heavily outweigh the profits, as the target customers (rural schoolgirls)
are the least capable of paying for the pads. Our direct sales to schoolgirls often
incur a loss, which
require us to secure subsidies from abroad. Additionally, many of the high-quality
materials needed to
make our product must be imported from abroad, which is prohibitively expensive
on a small-scale.

In light of these obstacles, we hope you
understand that Afri-Pads is unable to donate pads to Hope Alive Uganda, nor
are we able to provide you with information about starting a pad-making
operation. However, Afri-Pads exists
as a business because we have worked hard to overcome these challenges, and we
would be thrilled to work in partnership with Hope Alive Uganda to bring the
tremendous benefits of reusable pads to the young women of Kisozi village.

If you are still interested in purchasing Afri-Pads
for your beneficiaries, we’re more than happy to supply you with our
product. We look forward to
hearing back from you and truly hope, for the benefit of the women and girls
you support, that your organization will find the funding to place an order of
Afri-Pads
Menstrual Kits.

If you have any other questions about our
business please do not hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to hearing back from you,

Warmest regards,

Pauls Grinvalds & Sophia Klumpp

So they should be able to supply to Notre Dame too. As you are in the area, I don't know whether they will charge you the same, or whether you will be able to get them for less, as their site did suggest they are working with schools in Masaka.

Its frustrating that they are not willing to provide advice to others wanting to set up similar businesses. Although they rely on imported materials, the guys in Kabondo are hoping to make them with local materials which seems to me to be a better option.

Mary

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