REUSABLE SANITARY TOWELS TO CHANGE LIVES
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By Lineo Ramatlapeng
A 29-year-old Nthabiseng Mohanela from Maseru Lithabaneng has always had the idea of making reusable sanitary pads for over 2 years. Mohanela said “Noma pads” which was named after her daughter are supposed to last for at least 2-3 years.
The idea came into reality during the women’s month of August 2020.
What inspired Mohanela was when she joined a workshop in Mohale’s Hoek and was taught by volunteers who were teaching girls how to make basic pads made out of fabric and she thought she would make them more comfortable and safer for the body.
Mohanela added that while in Mohale’s Hoek there were a lot of girls from rural communities who had a problem accessing sanitary towels on a monthly basis.
She said this made her think of girls from different places with a similar situation.
“Periods are a natural occurrence and I think pads should be free,” said Mohanela.
Mohanela said she wanted to make every girl and woman’s life easy and keep it sacred, she also added that she doesn’t want girls to feel like their lives are made difficult by nature.
“It is also embarrassing for girls to buy pads every month because there is a stigma in our society of men who would still look at them weirdly knowing they are on their periods,” Mohanela explained.
Part of this project, Mohanela said is to also teach people and counsel girls about menstruation and menstruation hygiene management.
She also said they have a professional counsellor and an HIV/AIDS counsellor because they are dealing with blood and there should be safety.
“Some girls just don’t understand why they are on their periods, they get angry and grow up so angry feeling like they are being punished,” said Mohanela.
Mohanela mentioned that she felt like creating a space where every girl will feel like they are not alone and they are not going through it alone, they can celebrate it instead of just taking it as nothing.
Some of Mohanela’s goals are to work with big organizations in and out of the country, get contracted to produce thousands of pads and sell to Non-Governmental Organizations for them to donate to girls.
Mohanela stated that one of the big companies showed interest however they are still at a testing phase; they are going to get into branding and massive production after the testing.
She said a locally owned firm will be working with them to produce these pads.
Mohanela said she will run workshops with them to show them how to make these pads.
She said they have selected 25 women with different flows, body sizes and on a different medication to try and see how they all respond to the product as part of its trials.
But, the main challenge, Mohanela said is getting the lab tests done of which some cannot be done in the country, they are currently testing for absorption and safety.
“I already have people waiting for the end product; we have just finished packaging,” Mohanela said.
Mohanela also believes her brand is growing because ever since she started, there is progress and support from potential sponsors to fill much-needed funds for material and machines.
Besides selling to organizations Mohanela said they just want to give girls pads.
Mohanela added that she volunteers at Morija Art Centre which is a home for artistic people and that it would be nice to have a database of girls just coming and just ask for a pad.
The pad is made up of recycled plastic which is right in the middle as the waterproof membrane Mohanela said the product is really thought through and they are planning to launch end of March.