If you’re not already acquainted, meet PERIOD, a nonprofit organization working hard to bring menstrual products to those in need! GladRags is proud to partner with PERIOD, providing them with donations of cloth pads and menstrual cups. One of the ways the organization is able to accomplish its goals is through chapters – groups of activists who raise awareness, host fundraisers, and distribute menstrual products. Recently, the Catlin Gabel School chapter went to Morocco, and brought GladRags pads to distribute. Nancy, who traveled with the group, gave us an eye-opening account of the trip:
We made several deliveries of the GladRags throughout our Morocco travels. The main distribution took place at Moulay Idriss at the local school with middle school students, their teachers, and local college-aged students who were serving as translators for us. We had an incredible day with this group of young women (we were gender-divided) and learned so much about how they manage their periods, how difficult it is to access any kind of feminine hygiene products, and the fact that many girls remain home once the onset of puberty begins. We had an incredible conversation about tampons and menstrual cups – these were products the girls had never heard of, as anything entering the vaginal cavity is seen as an unclean, spoiling practice.
I recall one young woman, a college-aged volunteer, who was very westernized in her attire with big hoop earrings, lipstick, etc. She explained that she had an allergy to the plastic in Always maxi pads – the only option available in Moroccan pharmacies – so she ended up using old t-shirts and dirty rags. She had had infections from this approach and was so excited to begin her new hygiene regime with GladRags.
The next visit we made was to the Amicitia American School in Fes. Here we gave a large amount of product to Ashley Olsen, a Catlin Gabel alumna who is the current head of this school. Her school is Moroccan-majority, where these young Moroccan teenagers are being taught primarily in English and French, with an eye toward heading to high-achieving, international universities. Her students are excited to begin a chapter of PERIOD as part of their ongoing commitment to community service, and they received the donations with enthusiasm about setting up a local distribution plan for refugee women from Sub Saharan Africa, Syria, and women who have had to flee their homes in Morocco to escape domestic violence, poverty and so on.
Next we went to the Amal Women’s Center in Marrakech. Amal is a training program similar to Sisters of the Road Cafe, where women come and are housed for several weeks or months in order to train to work in the food service and hospitality industries. The center provides a number of services free of charge to their residents including counseling, education courses, and art activities. The women who are there use this program because they had to flee their homes due to abuse including domestic violence, rape and incest. Because of the sensitive nature of the women’s lives and reasons for being there, we did not do a formal ‘gift’ of the GladRags, but rather we gave them to the women through the program director there.
Finally, we spent a great deal of time in homestays in an Amizigh (Berber) village outside of Marrakech. We gave the final ration of GladRags to our host mothers and sisters.