KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

July 30th, 2014 by Madeleine

Sarah Hadden is a former teacher and the US Director of the KURA project, an organization that supports literacy in Northern Kenya.

After traveling to Kenya in 2010 and again in September 2012, I witnessed the sad state of affairs in the schools in Samburu, Maasai Mara and Nairobi.

As a former teacher, it broke my heart to see children deprived of an education for lack of funding. I was told that conditions in the north were far worse with the majority of the population being deprived of an education due to extreme poverty. I soon met Kura Omar, a local resident, who helped me understand even more the great need for assistance. Kura grew up in northern Kenya so he is very aware of the hardships and needs of the people living there.

kura1 KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

Upon returning to the United States, I started The KURA Project (Kids Uniting for Rural Africa), naming the program after Kura, in order to raise funds for school supplies for these underserved students in northern Kenya.

Since its inception the Kura Project has delivered supplies to 11 primary schools in Northern Kenya. These deliveries included items the teachers requested, such as pens, pencils, geometrical sets, story books, rulers, graph books, dictionaries, composition books, exercise books, text books, crayons and sanitary towels(pads). Kura generously donated his time and effort to deliver these supplies to schools in the north.

After delivering supplies to several of the schools, and receiving letters of thanks for the donations, a common theme appeared. Each letter and sentiment passed on through Kura expressed appreciation for sanitary towels. Many girls are deprived of an education because of the lack of this basic necessity. Many girls must remain home during this time and risk the danger of being married off for cows at a very young age.

In 2012 The KURA Project began raising money for AFRIpads menstrual hygiene kits. These reusable sanitary pads last the girls and women up to one year, keep them in school and allow them to go through their monthly cycle with dignity.

kura8 KURA + One4Her = 2,000 girls with AFRIpads

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Hello Flo’s Unhappy Period Party

July 2nd, 2014 by Madeleine

helloflo first moon party period commercial1 Hello Flos Unhappy Period Party

Monthly subscription period providers Hello Flo have done it again, creating yet another provocative and hilarious video about menarche, the sequel to last summer’s hit “Camp Gyno“.

For all of its gumption and hilarious one-liners, the new video also made me a bit sad. Maybe it’s because I’m still coming down from an incredible high with the successful launch of G Day on April 28th. While not explicitly a “First Moon Party”, G Day was definitely a rite of passage celebration for adolescent girls, inspired by my desire to have the specialness of menarche honoured in my own life back in the day. It was so amazing to see 250 girls together celebrating this uniquely magical time of life: watching them revel in it was one of the highlights of my life.

The Hello Flo video troubled me not so much for its problematic portrayal of mother-daughter relations, as NPR commentator Laurel Dalrymple explores in her poignant article, Meanstruation: HelloFlo’s Mother-Daughter War is Funny, and Sad (although I can absolutely see where she is coming from on that front). At the root of this, for me at least, is some resentment that the idea of a menarche celebration is being mocked, making yet another hefty contribution to the period-as-joke trope. Jokes can lead to shame, and shame is the last thing that any of us, particularly girls, need: they’re getting enough BS messages about their bodies as it is. The subtext  of the video seems to be: what could be more dreadful than your Mom organizing some form of celebration of the onset of your period?

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It’s often said that the best things in life can take time, and that relationships are everything. In the case of a unique new tactic that supports education for girls in the developing world, these old adages are more than true.

rmf Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!I was initially contacted online by CottonTales and Transformation Textiles founder Rachel Starkey in the early 2000s, connecting over our shared interest in washable pads. We met in person for the first time in 2003 in Vancouver, when Rachel had returned back to Canada for a family visit from her home in Alexandria, Egypt. Little did I know at the time that our relationship would span decades and continents.

Over the years we have met up in Las Vegas as well as Egypt, every time going deeper on the idea of using mass-scale garment manufacturing to create mass-scale reusable panties and pads to support girls education in the developing world.

Having identified the need for underwear as a key component to the success of the adoption of cloth pad use, together we created an easy-to-make pattern for adjustable-sized panties that could be made from factory offcuts. The process of using leftover wasted fabric and turning it underwear is where Transformation Textiles gets its name.

The panties have small strips of fabric in the gusset that can be used to hold simple cloth pads made of a combination of absorbent and waterproof fabrics, which can then be washed and re-used for years without creating disposable waste. msf Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

We got an ideal opportunity to test the products when I was approached by Canadian Anna Ebert of Good Hope Ministries in 2012, who had been working for many years in Malawi and had identified the need for personal hygiene supplies and requested enough for a staggering 50,000 girls. Until that point, Pads4Girls donations had been at most 500 kits at a time.

We settled on 10,000 kits as an initial test run, and set out to raise funds to cover shipping a container from Egypt to Malawi. The final landed cost per kit, each of which includes 3 pairs of panties, 9 pads and a carrying purse, is $5. Lunapads reached out to our community and raised $12,500, including $500 from our friend Danielle LaPorte, a highly influential author and speaker.

Celebrity support also came via talk show host and filmmaker Ricki Lake, who referred us to Marie Da Silva, Ricki’s former nanny. In 2002, Da Silva, a CNN Hero award recipient, founded the Jacaranda Foundation, a Malawi-based orphanage and school.

In an email response to my inquiry about the need for hygiene supplies at Jacaranda, Marie enthusiastically shared: “This is so amazing, because just last week I sat in a class of teenage girls who were being taught by a German volunteer about hygiene during their menstrual period. Remember these girls are orphans and do not have any kind of income to even buy the new piece of cloth. We have 400 Orphans at our school and 50% are girls. Most teenage girls in secondary school. Two days later I received your email and forwarded it to Julia who is the German volunteer. We could not believe it. There must have been some Angels listening in that classroom.”

group Transformation Textiles + Pads4Girls = Malawi success!

Rachel set to work to make the kits, however because of political unrest in Egypt following the revolution of January 2011, the shipment was delayed by almost 2 years. At last the shipment has arrived in Mzuzu, Malawi earlier this year, and the distribution process has now begun! Thank you everyone who has been part of this amazing project, and stay tuned for more stories as the pad/panty kits are distributed throughout the remainder of 2014.

 

Why #MenstruationMatters to us at Lunapads

May 28th, 2014 by Lunapads Team

mm Why #MenstruationMatters to us at Lunapads

You know that you’re really getting somewhere when there’s an “official” day about your cause. For us, that day has finally arrived!

According to their website, Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th) “will help to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.”

After over 20 years of trying to get this simple yet woefully underrepresented message out into the world, I am so thrilled to hear this. Our friends at WASH United are behind this excellent initiative, complete with all the bells and whistles to propel the issue to worldwide attention: an infographic, Action Toolkit, and social media campaign: #menstruationmatters.

In the spirit of the day, we thought that we’d address why #menstruationmatters to us at Lunapads. Here are a few of our thoughts:

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Holistic Cramp Relief Tips

May 16th, 2014 by Guest

We know what it feels like to get crampy… and crabby. It’s just not fun. We know how tempting it can be to fall into the old trap of popping a pill, and while that might be a temporary quick fix, it is also very taxing on your body. So why not get to the bottom of the problem and eliminate them altogether? Our friends Dr. Emily Lipinski ND and Holistic Nutritionist Gabriela Delano-Stephens from Period Makeover are here to help!

cramps Holistic Cramp Relief Tips

UNDERSTANDING CRAMPS

In medical terms, severe cramping is referred to as dysmenorrhea, but we will just stick with cramps. During ovulation (mid cycle) a biological chemical substance called Arachidonic acid is released leading to the production of specific prostaglandins (PG). These are naturally made in your body to mediate a myriad of physiologic effects including helping to regulate the contraction of smooth muscle tissue found in the uterus, but unfortunately they can also be responsible for cramping.

This is because there are a number of different types of PGs, and some, such as PG2 and PGF alpha which are pro-inflammatory, stimulate uterine contractions, which cause cramping. With each contraction, oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus is cut off as the blood vessels in the area are pinched. When the uterus loses oxygen for a few seconds we feel pain. Note that not all prostaglandins are inflammatory! Some prostaglandins such as PG1 and PG3 are anti-inflammatory and are very beneficial for your cycle. However, the aim is to decrease the production of arachidonic acid leading to the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Basically:
↑ Arachidonic acid = ↑ and PGF alpha = ↑ uterine contractions = ↓ oxygen = CRAMPS!

Note that, besides excess PG2 and PGF alpha production, there are 3 major causes for cramps.

• First and foremost, is just the mere fact that you are getting your period! Your uterus begins to contract to dispel the uterine lining and blood, and you can feel this process taking place. Most of us would be ok will a dull ache, however severe painful cramping needs to be addressed with diet and lifestyle changes or ruling out another underlying cause.

• Those of you with an IUD likely experience much worse cramps due to the ‘invasive’ device, when your uterus contracts you can feel the device as it is pressed against the uterine walls.

• The third reason can be attributed to endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or fibroids in which case you would likely experience pain during sex, pain when you have a bowel movement, or experience abnormal vaginal discharge, if this is the case please consult with your doctor.

HOW DO WE STOP THE CRAMPING CYCLE?

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Spread the word about #Diva500 and Win!

May 8th, 2014 by Lunapads Team

628 Spread the word about #Diva500 and Win!

Have you told your friends about our campaign to provide 500 girls in East Africa with sustainable menstrual products? For every DivaCup purchased during our 20% off sale, Diva International will support our One4Her program by donating an AFRIpads Kit to a girl in need. Learn More

Enter to win below and help us spread the word on social media! We’ll choose 1 winner to receive a $100 Lunapads Gift Card for every 100 DivaCups sold this month.

click to tweet: I just got a @DivaCup from @Lunapads. They’re donating @AFRIpads to a girl for every cup sold! http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

click to tweet: My @DivaCup purchase from @Lunapads helps girls stay in school. What does yr menstrual product do? http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

click to tweet: A @DivaCup 4me = @AFRIpads 4her. Get yrs at @Lunapads this month & make a difference for 500 girls http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

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mhmday Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day with The DivaCup

Help us reach our goal of providing AFRIpads kits to 500 girls in East Africa. For the month of May, Diva International has generously agreed to boost our One4Her program to provide an entire AFRIpads kit for every DivaCup purchased at Lunapads.com. Already have a DivaCup? Then tell your friends! It’s time to make the switch or buy one for your friend today!

Menstrual Hygiene Day is on May 28, 2014, but we’ll be celebrating all month long by helping improve access to sustainable menstrual products for girls in East Africa. We’ve partnered with Diva International to expand our One4Her program and donate an AFRIpads kit (2 pads with 5 inserts, plus 1 carrying bag) for every DivaCup sold on Lunapads.com during the month of May. Each kit provides a girl with a sustainable supply of cloth pads to manage her period for over a year.

Since 2002, Lunapads has been operating Pads4Girls, a program that addresses an issue faced by hundreds of millions of girls and women in developing nations: missing school or work for several days every month because they lack adequate means to manage their periods. Providing girls with sustainable menstrual supplies is a simple yet highly effective way to give them a chance for a better future.

afripads Celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day with The DivaCup

Taking our commitment a step further, in 2012 Lunapads partnered with AFRIpads, a social enterprise in Uganda, to create One4Her, where for every One4Her product sold online, Lunapads matches that purchase by financing the production and distribution of a Ugandan-made AFRIpad to a girl in East Africa.

The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) issue in the developing world is a complex one, where many product and educational options are being explored. What makes One4Her unique is that, in addition to providing a proven, easy-to-use, cost effective solution, it also supports employment in Africa. This is why Diva International has partnered with Lunapads & AFRIpads to provide cloth pads to girls in need.

Please help spread the word about the importance of MHM and tell your friends to make the switch to The DivaCup!

click to tweet: I just got a @DivaCup from @Lunapads. They’re donating @AFRIpads to a girl for every cup sold! http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

click to tweet: My @DivaCup purchase from @Lunapads helps girls stay in school. What does yr menstrual product do? http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

click to tweet: A @DivaCup 4me = @AFRIpads 4her. Get yrs at @Lunapads this month & make a difference for 500 girls http://lunapads.com/divacup.html #Diva500

Fertility Awareness Workshop This Saturday

April 29th, 2014 by Guest

wisewomen Fertility Awareness Workshop This Saturday

What better way to celebrate Earth Day this month than to green your contraception and protect your future fertility?

Join Registered Massage Therapist, Kashka Zerafa, Saturday May 3rd at Pomegranate Community Midwives in Vancouver for an introductory workshop on the Justisse Method of fertility awareness.

Learn how our bodies communicate fertility and how ovulation can be charted accurately to avoid pregnancy naturally. The WHO has stated that fertility awareness methods are 95-97% effective with correct and consistent use. Come get the guidance and training you need to practice safe and successful fertility awareness!

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The joy of personal liberation

April 14th, 2014 by Madeleine

madsleft The joy of personal liberationOne of the greatest gifts that switching from tampons to Lunapads and the DivaCup (in addition to all of the obvious things that we are always talking about) has given me is the inspiration to question all kinds of personal and consumer choices that we often take for granted as necessary or inevitable.

For some women, casting aside caring about others’ opinions of them, or even the notion of being a woman at all, can open up whole new worlds of freedom and self-expression.

I have been enjoying the Raw Beauty Talks campaign, where Vancouver social entrepreneur Erin Treloar has been photographing local women without makeup, and pairing the portraits with frank interviews about photoshop, “inner beauty” and how we navigate judgement about appearance.

As someone who uses some makeup pretty much every day, I have been moved by beholding the real faces of many women that I know, effectively “seeing” them for the first time, and reconsidering my own choices as a result. Am I “empowered” in my choices around my appearance, or a still-deluded consumer too shamed to accept myself in my natural state?

While I’m not ready to give up my mascara and mineral powder just yet, there are many other related choices that I have become conscious of since I discovered that I didn’t “need” disposable menstrual products. I still remember the first time I passed by the “feminine paper” aisle in the drugstore in my post-tampon euphoria: I felt so free, like I didn’t have to believe a particularly pernicious lie anymore. In what other ways does the Emperor have no clothes?, I wondered.

What about the practice of hair dyeing and removal? Most women that I know dye or at least highlight their hair, as I did for many years. I still remember the burning sensation at my roots as I tried to do what is still taken for granted as a rationale: conceal the inevitable grey. I have been proudly and happily dye-free for 8 years and feel fantastic about it. When asked what my hair colour is, my joke has become that I have no idea and honestly don’t care. (For a longer, excellent read on the hair topic, head over to our friend Marnie Goldenberg’s blog.)

What if I could feel the same way about the crows feet around my eyes, the scars on my belly, my post-nursing breasts, and acne-pocked skin? How great would that be?

I know other women who have “let themselves off the hook” (literally!) by ditching bras, or at least those with underwire. Others say no to waxing, dieting, nylons, skinny jeans, thong underwear or high heels, just to name a few. What standard “beauty rap” have you let go of (or do you embrace?) Here’s my “off the hook” list: lipstick, hair dye, waxing, high heels, nylons. And still going there (for now): teeth whitening, picky haircut, eyebrow maintenance, eye makeup, the odd facial.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that “beauty” maintenance is necessarily bad. Some women I know love their high heels, for example: they make them feel powerful. Right on, Sister! The point is to become more conscious about whether or not something is a true, freely-made choice that supports your fabulousness, or just something that you do because of a false, unquestioned belief (who would want to look old if they could help it, right?) that doesn’t actually serve you (or anyone, for that matter). Maybe one day I’ll find the perfect pair of heels, discover that tooth whiteneing is toxic, or decide to cut my hair short or dye it purple, who knows? In the meantime, I’m just going to keep checking in to see what feels good to me today.

Ageism is rampant in our society, and nowhere is it visited more harshly than upon women. Look beautiful, stay beautiful, fight ageing: this is what we’re told. How about this instead: love, accept, care for and celebrate yourself in whatever ways serve you, free yourself and others from judgement, and seek joy and liberation in whatever forms they take for you.

Guest blogger Saki Onda is a Masters of Public Health student in the global health department at the Harvard School of Public Health.

smbiophoto Healthy Periods: A Doctors Global Perspective

The ability to manage our menses safely, comfortably, and with dignity is a luxury that most women and girls in industrialized countries take for granted.

My personal experience with menstruation has always been a positive one – around the age of eight my mother sat me down to explain periods and cooked sekihan or ‘red rice’ when I did reach menarche. In my home country of Japan, this steamed sticky rice and azuki bean dish is prepared on special occasions that call for celebration – one of which is when a girl reaches menarche, although this custom is less frequently practiced nowadays.

Being of Japanese origin but having grown up in international communities in the U.S., France, and the U.K., I have become aware of varying attitudes, practices, and taboos towards menstruation. As a physician and current Master of Public Health student with a focus on reproductive health, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) has become an area of growing interest.

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