By Emma Hanson, Fourth Year, MA English
The Croft Magazine // Find out more about this non-profit organisation that makes reusable sanitary pads for refugees around the world.
Pachamama is the Andean goddess of menstruation, a warm and charismatic image of sisterhood. A fitting name for The Pachamama Project CIC, a non-profit organisation that makes reusable sanitary pads for refugees. Period poverty is a widespread issue - up to 500 million women and girls don’t have sufficient sanitary products.
Period poverty is an even more pressing issue for refugees; the limited toilet and hygiene facilities in refugee camps means periods are a monthly challenge. Many women and children resort to using socks or fabric scraps, which can cause discomfort and even infection. The Pacha Pads, as they are known, can mitigate some of the stress.
Ella Lambert set up the project during lockdown after plans to volunteer in a refugee camp fell through. With extra time on her hands, she recruited her friend Oliwia Geisler and they started making reusable sanitary pads from their kitchen table, as an easy way to help. The pads take as little as 15 minutes to make, but their impact is lasting for women and girls in refugee camps, alleviating the stress and discomfort of limited hygiene facilities.
The Pacha Pads are distributed by partner charities in Lesvos, Greece, but the refugee camp there in Moira has recently tragically burnt down. Adapting to this terrible situation, Ella and Oliwia began collecting disposable sanitary items to send over whilst the infrastructure in the camp is rebuilt.
When the camp is up and running again, the Pacha Pads only need to be washed with cold water, which is manageable for the often limited and basic conditions in refugee camps.
The Pachamama Project is in its early stages, and we just want to grow it as much as possible by reaching out to volunteers, societies and finding fundraising opportunities
Ella recently secured a trial distribution in Lebanon. The pads will be trialled by some of the Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese women living in the refugee settlements in the Beqaa Valley, with the hope that they work for them and we can do some larger distributions. They hope to extend the reach of the project by sending the pads to more countries in the future, and as Spanish students, the girls are keen to help Colombian refugee camps which have been particularly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pachamama Project hopes to have ‘Pacha Clubs’ in local schools where young people can volunteer by making the reusable sanitary pads. Teaching young people to make Pacha Pads provides an opportunity to educate them about the hardships that refugees face, whilst attempting to break period taboo; the project helps educate the community of volunteers who make the Pacha Pads, as well as the refugees the pads are sent to.
There are a few ways you can get involved with the Pachamama Project if you want to help out. Making the reusable sanitary pads is a no-commitment and flexible way to help, you can donate any amount to the charity’s GoFundMe page, and Ella is organising a fun run at the end of October that anyone can get involved in.
At the moment, due to the fire in Moira, the Pachamama Project is collecting disposable sanitary products to send out to the camp. Any nappies, adult nappies, wipes or sanitary products are gratefully received.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, including guides on how to make the Pacha Pads and source free fabrics, and to sign up to the fun run.
Featured Image: The Pachamama Project / Instagram
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