Cotton towels needed for reusable pads

Surfers attending the La Muse Longboard Classic at Muizenberg on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August dropped their towels in baskets to donate to the Inkululeko Yintombi charity. Founded by Charley Pollard, the organisation uses cotton towels for a reusable sanitary pad project to make cotton pads for the girls at Mngcibe Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape.

“I have opted for cotton pads instead of packets of pads, or plastic pads as I call the latter, which are not sustainable, not only on an environmental level, but also from a logistical and financial point of view as well. The schools that I propose to help are tricky to access, with really bad roads, making it difficult to keep stocking them,” says Pollard.

She is hoping to drop off the pads in Port Elizabeth by either driving there herself or using other means to get the pads to the school.

“I will ask the people at Freedom O’Clock at Mdumbi to help me get the pads from PE to Mdumbi, which is a long, slow drive. Each pack consists of four pads that we put into a waterproof-lined drawstring bag. The cotton pads are soft, comfortable and washable, making them reusable. Not being the best seamstress on the planet, a friend of mine offered that she’ll get her ‘sewing circle’ involved,” Pollard says.

One of her other friends, with her family and school, has been helping a school in Mazeppa Bay, also in the Eastern Cape. The needed help with reusable pads and that is how Pollard became involved.

“While on a morning run in Mdumbi I was joined by two rather giggly girls on their way to get water in buckets. They asked if I minded them running with me, which of course I didn’t. When we got to my turn-around point, I stopped and chatted to them. It turns out that they were both at the school right next to where we were. I asked them if they minded talking to me about their periods and what they did for them, etc.

“After an initial sheepishness, they opened up and were candid. The told me that they use rags, and often don’t make it to school during their period. It was obvious to me then that there was a great need, and I was keen to get involved. I have never done anything like this, so I am learning as I go, but I am up for the challenge,” Pollard says.

Another friend that lives on a farm in the area helped the wives of the labourers to set up a Cut, Make and Trim (CMT) business and they are currently sewing the prototype­.

“We are collecting ‘gently-worn’ towels. We also use flannel for the outside, so we buy that. Fabric for the bag – if anyone has access to waterproof fabric for the inside of the bag, that would be great: old sails, parachute fabric, something like that.

“My vision for Inkululeko Yintombi is to help get a sustainable solution to girls staying at home because they have their periods. I would like to have reusable sanitary pads made and donated to schools, so that girls/women can get the education they deserve,” she says.

Mdumbi is a beautiful remote area in the Transkei and she would like to start her distribution with schools in that area­.

“Ideally I would like to see each girl above the age of 11 receive four pads and a bar of soap, in a waterproof-lined drawstring bag. For now I need to find out how many eligible girls there are in this particular school and cost the making and transport of supplying them,” Pollard says.V Call Charley on 082 772 7221.