Total Pads Distributed Around the World (as of Feb 2017): 10,252!
The Pad Project makes washable, re-useable maxi pads for girls and women in impoverished areas of Kenya. These durable and long-lasting maxi pad kits consist of one waterproof base unit, two heavy liners and two light liners. They can be washed and re-used many times. They are relatively simple to make, and the materials can be purchased at your local fabric store, or even found in your own home. You can make them on your own or in a group to share the fun!
The project began after a primary school principal asked if we could bring pads for his students instead of our donations of pencils and school supplies. He explained disposable sanitary supplies are not available or affordable in many third world countries. Annual school fees in Kenya are often a big sacrifice and financial burden for a family, especially families with multiple children. When adolescent girls start menstruating in these rural and impoverished areas they often have to miss about a week of school every month due to their lack of feminine sanitary products. This puts them hopelessly behind in school work and often makes them unable to pass the exam at the end of eight grade, the exam that determines if they will get to go to high school or not. For women in Kenya, especially young women, there are very few opportunities if you are uneducated. Many of these girls end up getting married at the age of 13 or 14 because it means someone else will take care of them, and the family receives a dowry for each daughter’s wedding.
What makes this situation even more alarming is that high school boys are buying disposable pads and giving them to the girls in exchange for sex. The sad situation that many of these young girls find themselves in is having to choose between dropping out of school or having to prostitute themselves in order to graduate. In Kenya, graduating from high school is often the difference between having a career and a bright future, or going hungry.
These cloth, reusable pads can literally change the life of a young girl. They last around 3-4 years if properly cared for. The pads will be brought to Maseno, Kenya approximately every 6 months, by volunteers who will hand out the pads directly to girls in local schools in Maseno and the surrounding area. The girls also receive education about feminine hygiene, safe sex, associated risks, and respecting their bodies.
Sew the pads! You can do this on your own or get a group of friends together for a Pad Party! You can get the materials at your local fabric store, or you may even have them laying around your house. An old towel works great for the terrycloth liners, and an extra flannel shirt or leftovers from a flannel quilt work great for the base unit. The pattern and instructions are available below to download.
Collect donations of flannel, towels, Velcro and elastic for a Pad Party in your area. Almost every house has at least one of these items to spare!
Donate underwear (new please!). We’ve found that pads are difficult to use without undies, and not all girls have these basic, but necessary garmets. We can use all sizes, but girls sizes 10-16 or women’s small/medium, are the most common sizes.
Volunteer on one of the trips to Kenya to work with the Pad Project team handing out pad kits to girls in local schools and educating them on menstruation and their bodies. A background in medicine (nursing students and medical students welcome) is helpful but not necessary.
Finished pads and underwear can be shipped to different locations depending on the upcoming volunteer group. Please contact Emma Stober for more info, shipping details, and any other questions, at firstname.lastname@example.org.