Updated: Mar 4, 2022
With 1 in 5 girls missing school due to lack of menstrual products, period poverty is important, yet often ignored public health crisis. “Period Poverty” refers to the widespread phenomenon of being unable to afford products such as pads, tampons, or liners to manage menstrual bleeding. Instead of sanitary products, many people are forced to use items like rags, paper towels, toilet paper, or cardboard. Others ration sanitary products by using them for extended amounts of time. Period poverty encompasses not only this lack of access to products, but also inadequate access to toilets, hand washing containers, and hygienic waste management. Periods are painful and inconvenient, but we, the lucky ones, can buy what we need at a local pharmacy or supermarket. Having your period is a huge issue when you have neither money nor access to feminine hygiene products. I’m sharing this information with you to raise awareness of how menstruation poverty negatively affects the lives of millions of girls and women worldwide, including in The Netherlands and Indonesia.
"Women should have access to menstrual products at all time"
I've never thought I'd be so immersed in helping other girls & women to fight against Period Poverty. This mission came to light in October 2020 when I realized that there are so many women out there who don't have access to feminine hygiene products nor clean water to support their hygiene. With my dear friend, Sham Hira, we went on a search to find the women in need in the city where we live, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. It was quite challenging because a lot of women still see 'menstruation' taboo - something they should not talk about at all - let alone with strangers on the internet. Even today, in some communities, women are banished to sheds during their period because of so-called 'impurity' during menstruation, despite the ancient practice being outlawed. It took us about 2 months to find 20 women who finally reached out to us asking for support. Our first mission went well, we received a lot of funds from our loving friends, family, and community. Because of this, we were able to deliver 20 packages filled with not only specially tailored feminine hygiene products but also other extras such as pain killers, chocolates, perfume, and a yoga class were also part of these packages.
Still feeling high & excited from our big success, Sham and I extended our support to Bali, Indonesia - the island where I am from. I happened to be going back home to Bali to visit my parents in May 2021. My visit back home was very essential for my mental health - especially after 2.5 years of not seeing them. Although it was very complicated and challenging to fly Internationally in the midst of the pandemic, I made it back home to my roots. Almost immediately upon my arrival, I began to search for teenagers that I'd like to support with feminine hygiene products. Again, I wasn't alone in this. In Bali, I had full support from my dear friend, Eny Setiyowati, who did extensive research and found 4 different orphanages with 66 teenage girls in total who are in need of feminine hygiene products.
After buying feminine hygiene supplies to be distributed to those girls, I started to wonder about the history of the orphanages that we want to support. In Indonesia, orphanages are mostly divided based on religion. There are 5 official religions in Indonesia, which are Islam, Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, and Hindu. After reading about them, it came to light that the ones we are supporting happened to be Islam, Hindu, Christian, and Catholic. We almost covered the entire religion and it was a good sign! Sham said, "One Love," and it was one love indeed!
The first orphanage (panti asuhan, in Indonesian translation) that we visited is located in Abianbase. It was called Panti Asuhan Widhya Asih. It was a big, clean, and very peaceful space to be in. The kids were not there when we arrived, they were in school, online school to be exact. We were met with three sweet ladies who helped run the place. Apparently, these ladies grew up in this place as well. During our visit, they mentioned to us how much they appreciated this support because the period products are quite pricey in Bali.
Our next visit was to Panti Asuhan Seed of Hope which is located in Dalung, North of Kuta. All the teenage boys were so eager to help Eny and I took the boxes filled with feminine hygiene products out of the car. We could tell that these boys are very appreciative, helpful, and loving towards their sisters in the orphanage. Another good sign!
On to our next visit! This time we traveled a little further away from where we live. Our third visit was to Panti Asuhan Sunya Giri which is located in Denpasar city.
In the next hour after our third visit, we were traveling straight on to our fourth and last orphanage, Panti Asuhan Bali Assalam. This was by far the most challenging location to travel to. Although this orphanage has been at this location for 5 years, the government only built an access road in the area about a year ago. In the past, if you came by car, you'd have to park your car at the side of the main road and walk for about 15-20 mins through the bushes and ricefields to get there. We were lucky! Another good sign!
It is such a blessing to be able to help those in need. And it feels amazing that the girls we helped were very appreciative of it. It gave us just the right energy and motivation to continue this good cause.
Sham and I are open to receive more donations in the form of money or feminine hygiene products to support our Period Poverty Project.
If you are willing to help, or if you need some support from us in terms of feminine hygiene products, please click here.