Mensies, the red robot, that time of the month.
These are just some of the euphemisms people use to talk about menstruation – a topic that is taboo in some communities.
New NPO, The Pad Run was founded to desensitise the issue.
CEO of African Star Communications, Farah Fortune teamed up with her sister-in-law and best friend to start an NPO to educate girls and women about menstrual health.
The Pad Run was originally formed in July 2020 as a distribution platform for sanitary pads that were sourced as a birthday initiative by Farah.
She usually asks friends and family to donate toiletries and pads in lieu of birthday presents so she can donate them to communities and girls’ homes. But this year, she decided to switch things up.
“I usually kept my birthday donations to friends,” she explains. “However, this year I used my social media and asked followers to donate R100 each, or whatever they could afford, in order to raise R100 000 for sanitary pads.
"I settled on the name for the initiative as The Pad Run. I looked on Cipro and the name wasn’t registered anywhere. It was so simple, so I decided it would be perfect to use,” she tells Drum.
Farah hit her R100 000 target within two months and was able to donate 10 000 packs of sanitary pads in Cape Town, Kimberley and Johannesburg.
“We donated throughout communities, squatter camps, homes and police stations for gender-based violence and rape victims.
“Friends and family, including the Girls Leading Change initiative chipped into volunteer.
“In Cape Town, the day was such a success I started getting calls from people all over the world wanting to help. Literally from Los Angeles to Auckland in New Zealand, we were getting offers of help and donations,” she says.
At the weekend, The Pad Run held its first Period Pouch Workshop that was launched at Uitkoms Home for Girls in Observatory, Johannesburg. Those in attendance went home with period pouches containing two sanitary packs, one sweet treat, safe painkillers and new underwear.
“We’d like to donate more menstrual cups and re-usable pads. However, we have found through research and conversations with the girls we donate to that due to a lack of fresh running water, it is very hard to wash the pads and wear them unless they have a sufficient stack of them.
“The menstrual cups generally require you to also have access to fresh water to wash them when taking them out to empty, and so re-insertion is done with clean fingers to prevent infection,” she explains.
“We hope to find ways around these issues to provide sustainable, economic and environmentally friendly menstruation protection,” she adds.
Here are seven key messages from the NPO to young girls and women about their periods:
1. Periods are not shameful. They are natural.
2. No two women will have the exact same period experience. There are many similar experiences but generally not all woman will bleed the same colours, amount, etc.
3. Talk to girls about periods at a young age, so they'll know what is going to happen to them and show them the different menstruation protection options. This helps prepare a girl for a big change in her life with ease.
4. You can get pregnant while on your period.
5. You can use sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons, etc, for your periods. You are not limited to one choice.
6. Periods can be different colours.
7. Once you start your period, start seeing a gynaecologist if possible or go to the clinic for regular checkups.