We are investigating supporting our older girls with management of menstruation so that they do not feel that they need to miss a week of school each month or even to give up going to school.
The solution we are looking at is reusable sanitary protection. There are a number of patterns out there which organisations are kindly sharing.
Our Trustee Kate, looked at a number of patterns and tried making two different patterns. She chose the Luna Wolf pattern and instructions because she found that putting the layers together, tracing the pattern, sewing together and then cutting out, meant that the layers were all the same size. With other patterns that needed each layer cut separately and then lining up the layers to be sewn together meant that some layers could slip out of place. There are links on the following website to the patterns and instructions. The pattern used is for an all in one pad.
There are patterns for pads that have an outer layer with 2 small pockets that hold a removable absorbent layer. If used carefully only the liner will need to be changed regularly. The liner unfolds for washing and is then simply a piece of cloth that can be hung out to dry. One organisation supporting this pattern is:
These sites include information about choice of fabric. The best fabrics such as quilting batting and waterproof PUL, are expensive in the UK and were not chosen for that reason. One group suggests taking a sample of the fabric wanted to a local fabric shop or market and asking if they have an equivalent. There may be local names for a fabric. Planned and careful cutting out is needed to make sure that fabric is not wasted. A team approach with particular skills developed by girls for each stage of production could work well. It is good to take time to make a good quality product that can be relied on.
There has been a lot of work done in Uganda where AfriPads are manufactured and sold.
A charity working in Uganda, Irise, has much useful information on their website.
All the websites quoted provide educational materials to support the girls. The charity, Water Aid,
gives country specific guidance.
Ganet’s Adventure School Fund trustees are looking into sourcing training workshops for the school and finance for an electric sewing machine that can be powered by solar panels. With this project we wish to help our older girls and possibly to establish a skills base that can lead to income generation.
It is an opportunity to use fun fabrics.