Mabel Sustainable Feminine Hygiene

After witnessing the lack of access and the expense of feminine hygiene products in rural communities in Zambia as well as the taboo that still results in girls and women not communicating or supporting each other during their periods, Lauren Mellor decided to set up Mabel. Mabel provides girls and women with reusable feminine hygiene kits, teaches women’s groups how to sew the kits and empowers girls and women with menstrual lessons. The kits consist of waterproof shields that are shaped like sanitary pads with wings and are made out of 100% cotton and a special waterproof fabric.

These clip into the panties. There are also eight flannel liners that are inserted into the shields as the main absorbency component. These are all washable and when made correctly and looked after can last up to three years. This not only helps remove a large expense for these families but also decreases period products in landfills. The kits are finished off with panties, a care and cycle card, soap, a zip lock bag, a washcloth and put in a brightly coloured drawstring bag.

Friends From Ireland and Mabel have completed two projects together to date; in January 2018 we worked with the Galana Amani Women’s Group in Galana, Kenya and made nearly 50 kits for the ladies in the group and the local school girls. In January 2019, we worked with the Heri Sewing College in Malindi, Kenya, where we made 100 kits for girls in rural communities who would not otherwise have access to sanitary products. Heri Sewing College was founded by Madam Lucy in 2002 and supports young women from vulnerable backgrounds to pursue a 2-year training program, which equips them with income generating skills and a sewing trade. The project is supported by Elimu, an organisation based in Malindi providing mentorship and education support to children and young people. At the time of our project, the college had approx. 14 students and two teachers, Grace and Linet. We were also joined by some past pupils who wished to take part in the project and learn new skills.

In this second project Lauren also completed three teacher training menstrual lesson sessions with teachers, Roteract members and local community workers, ensuring that when future kits made by the Heri Sewing College are distributed, they will be accompanied by a menstrual lesson, given by a trained facilitator. These lessons are a hugely important element to Mabel projects and help break down the stigma of menstruation, as well as providing easy to understand education around periods, puberty, and taking care of your body.

In September 2019, two of our younger volunteers, Aoife and Sara gave another Mabel menstrual lesson to the children in Galana School and distributed a futher 24 kits to the women and children of the community. The funding for these was generously donated by a Mabel supported and the kits made by the students of the Heri Sewing College.

Friends From Ireland is very excited about continuing to work with Lauran and Mabel in the future, and providing women and girls with affordable, sustainable feminine hygiene kits.