At SWEA, we began an initiative to feature various NGOs across East Africa, that are tirelessly and selflessly working for the betterment of the East African nations.
It was then, when we came across the work done by The Purple Box, a small initiative started by a young college student, Naureen Gamdust. Naureen started the project last year to provide underprivileged school girls with sanitary pads. A lot of young women could not afford sanitary pads, and as a result, missed out on school days, eventually lagging behind academically.
Naureen’s project started off as a huge success, but as we conducted the interview, we came to know there had been no donations in the previous two months. The small community of compassionate women at SWEA came together to help Naureen get some donations for her project, and The Purple Box was able to successfully supply some sanitary pads that month.
Below is our interview with Naureen, that gives out essential details about her project, and how she came up with the great idea.
Tell us a little about the The Purple Box. How many people are behind this great cause and how did you come up with the idea of forming this unconventional form of charity initiative?
Naureen Gamdust: School girls in Tanzania who cannot afford to buy sanitary pads miss an average of 20% of their school year, missing key topic days and even examinations leading to many girls eventually being forced to drop out of school because of poor performances. During their menstrual cycles, girls prefer staying at home for the duration of their cycles because they are afraid of experiencing embarrassing situations in school like leaking and staining their uniforms and having to carry used cloth in their pockets and bags for hours during the school day because the alternative methods they use are inconvenient. Some even have to resort to using unsanitary alternatives such as cloth, newspapers, toilet paper, bits of sponge from mattresses and even dried cow dung, they risk developing serious infections and other complications.
I decided to do something about this!
I realize that talking about menstruation is a taboo subject in many cultures and societies. It is something that is spoken about in hushed tones. But there must come a time when we need to address this matter and raise awareness to an issue that effects half of Tanzania’s female population.
My project targets the poor who cannot even think of spending an extra $1 for a packet of pads because putting food on the table is a problem. My objective is to keep girls in school because I believe education is not only a human right but it is the key to a better life.
Sanitary pads are probably one convenient item that many of us girls and women take for granted. Pads should not be a luxury item but rather a RIGHT that girls and women should have access to. In my view, there is no reason for girls to miss school and stay out of sight because nature dictates that we should menstruate every month.
I had to come up with a way that would allow people to easily be able to donate and help that was most convenient to them. What better way then placing boxes in supermarkets? I mean, you are right there doing your shopping, why not buy pads for 1,500tsh only and drop it in a box on your way out, that would go to a girl that cannot afford to buy them.
What project is The Purple Box currently working on?
Naureen: The Purple box is currently working on raising money with GoFundMe to buy new and improved boxes to put in the supermarkets that will last longer. https://www.gofundme.com/the-purple-box-arusha…
How many sanitary pads do you receive monthly to be distributed around Arusha and other places?
Naureen: The number of sanitary pads received every month varies. Within the last 3 months there have been no donations. However, of course these girls still need sanitary pads every month.
How do you find the motivation to deal with the responsibilities of your project single-handedly?
Naureen: It’s easy. I just have a passion to help people.
How can our readers donate for the cause?
Naureen: If people would like to donate they can simply either donate money through GoFundMe (Link is in Q1). If they have trouble with credit cards and the link, or have any further questions I would be more than happy to find alternative ways! So just message me on the Purple Box’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/ThePurpleBoxArusha
At the moment there are no purple boxes in the supermarkets as they have all seen their last days and all have to be renewed.