GIRLS in third-world countries live a nightmarish week every month because of a natural cycle and Bundaberg woman Nicole Beasley's determined to make a difference.
Ostracised for having their period and left to "sit in their room or their hut bleeding on a bit of cardboard for five days a month", Ms Beasley has started making washable sanitary kits in the hopes of providing hygiene to girls who need it most.
Following in the footsteps of the Days for Girls organisation, Ms Beasley has founded a local outpost for the group and has made 17 kits since starting in February and has picked up another 20 bags and material for liners.
"A friend of mine was in Thailand recently and he said, 'you've got no idea how much these women need this'. He saw a woman on a bus a couple of weeks ago with no underwear on, just bleeding on the bus - I couldn't even imagine that," she said.
"These women use leaves or cardboard or newspaper.
"If they don't have products they are told they are unclean and they have to sit away from everyone. In some countries they can't even touch or prepare food if they have their period.
"So it's about trying to breakdown the stigma and the taboo in certain cultures."
Ms Beasley said her medical science background and understanding of the need for hygiene were just some of the reasons she decided to take up the cause.
Another reason was to keep girls in school because while they've got their period, they aren't going to school and are missing out on a week of education every month, she said.
All the kits are handmade and come with two shields and eight liners. They don't look like a pad - they are double-layered flannelette - and come in a handmade bag with a large and small waterproof zip-lock bag so they can wash the items.
They also get a washer, two pairs of underwear and soap.
Ms Beasley said when the kits were handed, the girls received some information about their cycle, hygiene and health care.
While unsure of when and where the first shipment will be, Ms Beasley will be at the BCC festival tomorrow for anyone looking to donate or help make a kit.
The festival is on at Bundaberg Christian College from 9am-2pm.
You can also visit the Days for Girls Bundaberg Facebook page or www.daysforgirls.org/
How you can help
Items you can donate to go in the kits include:
- 100% cotton fabric
- Dark flannelette
- Motel sized soap
- Kids sized 10-12 underwear up to adult sizes
- $20 donation towards the kit
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