Re-usable pads to help remote girls

The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is on a mission to provide re-usable sanitary kits to grade 12 girls in Telefomin Secondary School, Sandaun Province.

The Telefomin Secondary School has about 500 students of which one-third are girls, about 180.

In March, Siobhain Cole from MAF ran the first workshop for 27 grade 12 girls and 5 female teachers. The workshop aimed to provide re-usable sanitary kits, easing their burdens and worries during their final year of school.

“They have the big exams. They're going to be determining the rest of their lives this year. We wanted to be able to give them these re-usable sanitary kits. One less pressure, one less worry that they would have to think about for this year,” she said.

For six years, Siobhain has lived in Telefomin with her husband, MAF pilot Ryan Cole. The Coles understand the importance of addressing menstrual health. Access to sanitary products is limited and, if available, very expensive. Re-usable sanitary kits can alleviate the financial strain for the girls over time.

"If they look after it, it could last them for two or three years. This could save them up to about 100 AUD, which is a huge amount of money over three years for these young girls,” she continued.

Facilitating the workshops, Siobhain had help from her local friends Joyce and Vero, in educating the young women about menstrual hygiene and how to look after the re-usable sanitary pads to make them last longer.

"They have been able to touch the lives of dozens of these young girls in their areas.”

The school's principal, Mr. Dokan is in full support of the workshop and recognized its importance.

“He was so enthusiastic, as we shared with him some of the stories from having given kits away in other locations. He understood and he shared our passion and enthusiasm,” said Siobhain.

Siobhain shared that the re-usable pads could not have been delivered successfully without the assistance of donors worldwide. From the people selecting the fabrics, to sewing, mailing and hand carrying to flying them to the remote Telefomin.

"It is a small thing for us in the West, but for these girls here looking at their faces, this is such an enormous blessing. For these girls in grade 12 who are doing their exams, this year, their marks may be a few grades higher because of that one less pressure that you have taken off their shoulders," Siobhain said.

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