A Chat with Eva from The Kwek Society

Last month, you may have read about our collaboration with The Kwek Society, a nonprofit focused on supplying Native students and communities across North America with menstrual education and supplies. We spoke with the organization’s founder, Eva Marie Carney, to get a more in-depth look at the work they do and impact they have, as well as the many ways you can support them!

Kwek Society logo

The Kwek Society site says: “We are guided by the needs of the individual communities we support.” What are some ways this can look when it comes to menstrual products and education?

When we start a new partnership we ask specifically what products the particular students or community members want from us — the answers often vary a lot — and we get them those products. We don’t use just one supplier of pads or tampons or underwear — in fact, we do a lot of “personal shopping” to fill orders for disposable products. And once our partnership gets going we continue to ask for feedback on what we’ve provided, to make sure we are meeting individual community needs.

“We believe that every person deserves sufficient supplies to maintain dignity and celebrate their strength during their moon time.” This really stands out to us! What are ways that The Kwek Society helps support people to feel dignified, strong, and joyful beyond the actual menstrual products they need?

Kwek Society moon time bag poem card

A couple things here — We gift those we support with our moon time bags (cotton bags sewn by our supporters that are stuffed with pads and liners) and include in each a poem that celebrates moon times (periods).

We offer period education in the form of books on periods and puberty (the latter for both boys and girls, as we recognize that both sexes need to know about periods to ensure menstruators’ dignity). We showcase on our website and in our quarterly newsletters traditional, indigenous teachings about periods — these highlight the dignity and strength of menstruators. And we recently began sharing information about a period tracking app, Oky, that puts information about periods on the mobile phones of those we support. We believe that period knowledge fosters positive views about one’s maturation.

You recently visited several schools in New Mexico, where you brought along a copy of ‘Passage: A Guide to Periods’ (GladRags’ comprehensive guide for young people approaching menstruation). What drew you and your school partners there to the book?

Passage: A Guide to Period

We were interested in “Passage” because it looks comprehensive and empowering and is priced so that we could order one for all new menstruators in those New Mexico schools. Since we got started in 2018, we’ve been sending a couple copies of a number of puberty education books, but these have to be read in school or checked out from the library.

How are the educational materials and reusable pads from GladRags being distributed?

We have distributed these to three boarding schools in Northwestern New Mexico — nurses and administrators at these schools agreed to instruct the students on using and washing the pads and thought their particular students would welcome the sustainability of washable pads. These schools also have laundries so washing the pads should not be an issue. We will keep you updated as we hear back from the students!

Wingate High School students with GladRags products
High school students in Fort Wingate, NM, with their GladRags period supply kits and copies of Passage.

One way people reading this can help The Kwek Society right now is by sponsoring period supplies through GladRags. What are some other ways that they can help support the work that your organization is doing?

We appreciate GladRags’ support. Thanks for asking about other ways to help, too — there are so many options! One can:

1. Make a money donation (one-time or monthly) – checks and cash are welcome; we have a list of online donation options; checks can be mailed to PO Box 5595, Arlington VA 22205.
2. Conduct a period supplies drive – an instructional video is posted in ‘How to Help‘.
3. Donate your own supplies to us in Arlington, VA if you are local to us, or mail to us through Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. – we accept all types of pads, tampons and liners.
4. Sew moon time bags, stuff them with period supplies (each holds 2-3 pads and 2 liners) – instructions are here — and get them to us at the PO Box listed above.
5. Follow our work and spread the word about us via our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.
6. Host your own supply drive and then connect with us about where to send your great donations, or host a drive online through Be Prepared Period, easy and contact-free. Just answer a few questions, set a goal, and BPP will set you up with a donation link you can share with your contacts. Participants donate funds online and these come to us in the form of BPP’s organic pads and tampons.
7. Connect us to potential school and Native program partners.
8. Invite us to speak, by Zoom, to a group of interested folks — we love to share our story and passion for ending period poverty across Native North America.

Details on all of these options, and more ideas, are explained on our website!