Many of us take for granted several things: 1) access to income generating activities to be able to provide for our families 2) female hygiene products available each month 3) even during our menstruation, we can stay in school and 4) the ability to dispose of our sanitary products in a way that doesn't compromise the health of our environment. People in rural communities in South Africa do not have this luxury. Our Sewing project - focused on reusable sanitary pads addresses these needs.
The challenge is complex and has several aspects. Often women struggle to support their families and bring in an income - even more so if they have a disability or are wheelchair bound. Young women from poor families , during menstruation, drop out of school as they have no access to feminine hygiene products. And when they do manage to afford it, it then gets clogged in long-drop toilet systems leading to a break down in hygiene for the girls but also for the environment and water system.
The sewing project - is focused on supporting young women and women with disabilities to train and teach sewing. And they will be focused on making reusable sanitary pads for young women, which can then be distributed into the communities and schools to allow girls dignity and pride to stay in school every month. Income generating through the sewing project will support the livelihoods and generate income for the women to support their families.
The potential long term impact of a thriving sewing project in itself is big... allowing women to work close to home to support bring in an income, buy food, send their children to school. One of our main seamstresses is a wheel-chair bound lady called Ivy, with a 6 year old little boy that she pays to send to school. Orders of pads would allow Ivy to support her son. The pads that she ( and others) would make would allow young women to stay in school for their school career & get an education.