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Pad for Pad Newsletter Issue 3: January 2016
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Welcome to our newsletter!

This newsletter is dedicated to the partners implementing the Pad for Pad program across India. We are sharing feedback, stories and pictures to show you how the partners enabled the program to have a positive impact on girls and managed to spread it throughout the country.  

Partners and their action
Project KHEL, Lucknow (UP)
Girls with pads at an education session with Angana Prasad
Eco Femme's partnership with Project KHEL began  back in 2010 in a village called Saraiya in rural Uttar Pradesh.  Angana from Project KHEL was commissioned to translate for us menstrual educational sessions with women and girls into Hindi and it soon became obvious that she was a talented facilitator. She was so inspired observing the way the girls respond to these sessions that she went on to create her own innovative approach to menstrual hygiene education including innovative activities using puppets, role play and games.  “Red Spot” is the name of this program that has now successfully run under project KHEL and they have reached out to 2,420 adolescent girls since then! http://www.projectkhel.org/programmes/red-spot/

Feedback: About their experience with offering cloth pads as a value addition to the educational session, Angana says that “In most cases, young girls find it very difficult to believe that something this beautiful is to be used for something 'as dirty' as periods.”

Usually, the girls leave the session, hiding their cloth pad kit not wanting others to see the pads. In one particular instance though, Angana saw a surprising development: “ The otherwise shy girls confidently walked out of their center flaunting their newly gifted 'pretty' cloth pads, because they were completely sure that not even their mothers will be able to guess those were pads to be used for managing periods.”

"The idea that Project KHEL had tried to sow in the young minds about periods being a pure and natural process and definitely not dirty, was further strengthened by the beautiful cloth pads that Eco Femme manufactures, because  something this beautiful (the pads) can only be there to manage something equally beautiful (periods)."

As an organization, we really appreciate the idea behind the Pad for Pad programme. Considering the longevity and familiarity of a cloth pad, also the fact that it doesn't require anything to be inserted between the legs, a lot of our beneficiaries really appreciate the products.”
Pasand: Bangalore, Karnataka
One 8th grade class of girls from JB Nagar Gov School with facilitator Sharmada Shastry
Eco Femme is also really proud to partner with Pasand, a Bangalore based organisation that have developed a strong MHM curriculum which aims to  “help our students to understand puberty and personal hygiene, examine gender norms, and to be safe and happy on their journey through adolescence.”
 
Why:  Pasand approached us to partner in 2014 “because we have spoken/worked with many different product companies in India and beyond. Finding an organization with as strong of ethics, deep understanding of their customer base (and responsiveness to the market), and emphasis on beautiful design and function for women of ALL socioeconomic backgrounds is rare. Eco Femme has always been supportive and encouraging of Pasand’s mission, vision, educational efforts, and standards. We feel we are very much aligned in our efforts and goals.”

 
Feedback: About the experience of introducing cloth pad to as a value addition to the educational curriculum, Aunna Wilson, Founder of Pasand, says: “The vast majority of students use old cloth or cannot afford enough sanitary pads to change them properly (i.e. before they leak or within the recommended 4-8 hour window). This will be a huge economic benefit for the students, not to mention environmental for the school and community.
"When the girls were told the “market” cost of the pads and they were free they were absolutely elated. One student exclaimed "Akka [big sister] - we are so lucky! I cannot believe this!"
The girls were excited by the discreet nature of the foldable pad and were all beaming with pride as they left school with their new present tucked into their school bags, eager to tell their sisters and mothers about their new pads."

Principal and female teacher noted concern of kits being delivered for free as girls were known to throw their old cloth in the bathroom but they thought they were a brilliant concept and would inspire pride with their pretty colours and fabrics. The girls were all prepared to pay what little they could and some were even alarmed they had no money.

For more information about Pasand's wonderful work visit: http://www.pasand.org/ 

Kavya Menon, Nagapattinam (TN)
Girls during an awareness camp
Kavya approached Eco Femme to help her achieve her vision while she was undertaking a 1 year SBI fellowship in South Tamil Nadu in 2014 – 2015.
 
Why: "Incidents in my life made me feel that there was real need to interact with the women and girls, and give them some confidence to think on their own. I already had some past experience researching on sanitary napkins, and I felt that this was a good topic to work on. I began researching on good collaborators to work with. The tone of positivity from the website and the location being close were the initial reasons that I chose to explore a collaboration with Eco Femme.”  After an exploratory visit when Kavya came to meet us in Auroville she felt encouraged and inspired to take this forward. “We  had very good understanding and similar values and similar principles. It also helped us plan to try out a new model of involving pad stitching along with the Pad for Pad program.”
(note: Pad stitching is an additional activity that is offered under the Pad for Pad prorgam and is sponsored by https://www.tworagsclothing.com/how-we-help)
 
Feedback:
The biggest impact from her program seems to be that “Everyone now is more accepting of menstruation/periods, and do not consider menstrual blood a taboo or curse. They tell me that they won’t let their daughters be isolated and would entertain all their doubts and answer all their questions.”
Kavya has written a  beautiful blog about her experiences delivering these sessions which you can read here: https://kavyarmenon.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/menstrual-awareness-workshop/
Girls at an awareness camp
"'A spark has been created by Kavya akka’s presence', according to a progressive school teacher Mr. Singaravel. He feels that once they try to keep up this momentum, more opportunities can be built for girls and women to come out of the shells they were confined to."
Root Institute, Bodhgaya, Bihar

Why: Maya from Shakyamuni Buddha Clinic in Bodhgaya contacted us 1 year ago after hearing about this program from a friend.  She believed it would be a great value addition to their already existing health education program for adolescent girls who come from very impoverished backgrounds. They were convinced that reusable pads would be a better solution than disposable pads - they had also identified rashes and RTI's as quite common and hoped the cloth pads would help.

Adolescent girls with pads and explanations

Feedback: “Girls are all very happy, no any complain, no any skin rash they feel comfortable with the pads. Some girls had before using the Eco Femme pads vaginal watery discharge, after using them they haven't had anymore vaginal discharge. They would love making pads by themselves for their friends and relatives. They say it's very easy to keep them clean. They have no tension or worries about where they should throw their pads. They all say : THANK YOU.”

Saloni physiotherapist - Dr Savita with adolescent girls
Youth For Seva, rural Karnataka
One of our newest partners is Youth for Seva – we were contacted  in June 2015 by Smita a volunteer with YFS who was interested to introduce MHM awareness as part of their school programs with adolescent girls.
 
Why: Smita explains their motivation: “When we went to a hostel for the first time this year, there was a request from the hostel management asking us to get help sponsor the disposable pads. As the Govt. of Karnataka, gave the girls disposable pads the previous year which is not done this year by the Govt. That is when we thought of taking the green step and working with Eco Femme for the cloth pads instead of the disposable ones.”
High school class during a menstrual hygiene session in Bilinele (Karnataka)

Feedback: “It was quite shocking to know that most of the girls used sanitary pads, which was burning a hole in their pockets. Mothers used cloth napkins but insisted the usage of sanitary pads for the girls due to its conveniences.”

When it came time to distribute pads at the end of the educational session, “we asked the girls to sign up in a notepad if and only if they were going to use the pads, and interestingly most of the girls signed up.”

They are yet to evaluate the session but would like to reach out to 300 girls in remote areas of Karnataka and are confident this approach of education and eco friendly pads provide a good solution for the girls.

Looking forward... 

We hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the different motivations and ways the pad for pad program is changing girls lives.
About 50% of the total number of girls we reach is via implementation partners – the rest we directly reach out to from our office. While we have only profiled the work of 5 partners here today, we are actively engaging with 12 partner organisations throughout the country. We welcome our new partner LSN Foundation in Hyderabad.  We also have just begun to work with WASSAN in Telangana and NMT academy in Mumbai and are preparing to launch the program with a pilot in February with both these new partners.

 

How to partner?

We are ready to engage more partners as we head into the new year with a target to reach up to 6000 girls this coming year! Spread the word and be in touch if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the process for becoming a partner. Details can also be found on our newly relaunched website

Visit our new website!
Coming soon
In our next newsletter mid year, we plan to share the results of a baseline survey where we are monitoring behaviour change in 300 adolescent girls related to their experience of participating in the sessions we directly deliver.

Thank you to all our partners and donors who have invested so much into making this program a success. Your donations and efforts make it possible to positively impact the lives of girls across India by transforming their experience of menstruation.
Our progress at a glance
(
Apr - Dec 2015):
  • 3050 girls received pad for pad kits
  • 11,312 pads were distributed
  • 91 education sessions were conducted (direct and with partners)
  • 10,40,000 Rs in donation were received
Project KHEL, Lucknow
  • 250 Eco Femme packs distributed
Pasand, Bangalore
  • 125 kits received from Eco Femme
  • 28 kits were distributed in one government school out of 78 total participants
  • 48 cloth pads were distributed in two schools  out of 189 total girls
Root Institute, Bihar
  • 23 girls reached in pilot program
Kavya R Menon
  • 15 awareness camps were conducted in 14 villages 
  • 596 girls were reached and
  • 594 have received pads
Youth For Seva
  • 283 girls reached
  • 3 different schools
 
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