UK Charity Champion Chanzige reached out to Technical Absorbents in late 2021 about its washable superabsorbent fabric technology. The aim of the charity is to empower teachers and students in Kisarwere District of Tanzania to have a brighter future. As part of this work they run workshops to provide education about certain topics, including regular sessions to educate young women about menstrual hygiene and provide them with the tools required to make their own reusable products.
Charity Founder Philippa was keen to learn how the performance of these hand-made products could be improved and started researching new materials. This is when she came across Technical Absorbents and made contact to establish if our fabrics would be suitable for use in reusable period pads.
Having developed a range of washable materials for this exact use, we were keen to learn more about the project and it soon became clear that this was indeed something that as a company we wanted to support. Samples of various fabrics were initially provided to understand if they were a good fit with the product construction and – more importantly – if they would withstand the humidity. Feedback on both counts was positive and so we agreed to not only supply fabric for their workshops, but provide sponsorship so that a further workshop could be undertaken this year and also funded three new sewing machines to make pad production easier.
Schools in Tanzania are woefully under-resourced and class sizes often exceed sixty children. Basic resources like pens and paper are scarce. Often there is no electricity in the schools, and countless numbers have no drinking water available to the students. All of these hardships make it very difficult for the dedicated teachers to deliver a meaningful curriculum.
On top of this, it is common that when a girl begins her periods they stop going to school. The charity is continually looking to enhance the pads it make with the students. The new washable absorbent fabric we have donated is all part of this and we hope the relationship continues moving forward.
Most recently in September this year, our Product Development Director John Rose travelled over to Tanzania to assist in delivering one of the menstrual hygiene workshops.
A total of 75 young women have attended the two workshops we have sponsored working together to make simple products that many people take for granted. The final products will make a huge difference in the lives of these young girls and they also learnt new skills along the way.
Technical Absorbents will continue to support this fantastic cause moving forward.
Day 1: Our first day was spent in the school helping in the classroom teaching year 6 students. We ended the day helping to decorate the classroom
Year 6 students in their classroom
The decorated classroom at the end of the session
Day 2: This was the start of the menstrual workshop. The morning lessons were focused on the menstrual cycle and in the afternoon the girls started to make their first reusable pads. Initially the girls were taught to hand sew these so that they could see how easily they could be made at home. As our superabsorbent fabric is only available in the workshop, it is explained that other materials such as old flannels can be used. These won’t be as absorbent so worth carrying multiple pads.
The girls gather together before the workshop starts
The girls are taught that day 12 of a woman’s cycle is just an obstacle to overcome
Days 3 & 4: The workshops continue. Each morning starts with lessons and discussion around issues the students face. This includes the lack of clean water for washing themselves, sexual health and no education to young girls about menstruation. Each afternoon the students commence with making the reusable period pads using the new sewing machines.
The girls start with simple templates cutting the fabric
The Technical Absorbents funded sewing machines are used for the first time
Days 5: On the last day of the workshops the feedback received is really positive and there is an agreement to set up a monthly meeting to spread the knowledge to other girls. Each girl left the workshop with 4 reusable period pads.
Parents were also invited to learn and discuss how they can support their children moving forward to make the subject of menstruation less taboo and avoid some of the unnecessary risks and challenges that the girls face