Below is the website address where we found free patterns.
We adapted the instructions by making up the pads right side out, thus avoiding the step of turning them from inside out. A fairly close zig-zag stitch was sewn round the edges. We bought a popper tool to fasten the “wings” and have lots of poppers left for future efforts.
Below is information about the village of Labentara in Kenya, the destination for our pads. We also made some pretty bags of various sizes and sent some soap and some knickers. Jane Bell was our contact and if you wish to contact her, please use the form below to contact the administrator of this website and assistance will be given. [for security reasons we do not wish to publish Jane’s email address here] Jane is arranging with others for distribution of pads in similar impoverished villages and a visit is arranged for January/February 2020. Action Aid may also be able to assist with distribution, or indicate those who can.
Labentara is a small Maasai community near Ngoswani in southern Kenya. It is a rural area, about one hours drive away from the Maasai Mara National Park. Ngoswani is a very small town, and is distinguished only by the weekly livestock market. It is a traditional Maasai area, where the locals dress in red Maasai blankets, and the community retains its’ traditional culture and traditions. It is also a very poor community. There is very little employment, most of the local people look after their livestock (cows are currency for the Maasai), and few are in paid employment. The girls are often married whilst very young, and the dowry is usually two cows. Once married, they are the property of their husbands.
It is a very welcoming community, and there is a strong and supportive collective spirit. There are regular droughts, often so severe that the livestock perish, and the children, whose staple diet is porridge made with milk, are left hungry for long periods. The village comprises a ring of houses, built by the women, of wood, cow dung and mud. It is edged by a ring of branches to keep predators out at night. Small animals, chickens, lambs and goats, live in the houses at night to protect them. The houses have slits for windows and a central fire for cooking. There is little ventilation and chest and eye problems are common. The houses have recesses in which the family members sleep, but few possessions, given the nomadic traditions of the community.
Until recently, the village had no access to clean water, and it was a round trip of 6 hours for the women, who had to carry two twenty litre containers in searing heat. Local fundraising here in the north east has provided a borehole, cattle troughs, and a small nursery school for the local community. These have had a huge impact, and help cope with drought, as the borehole takes water from aquifers deep under the ground. But, even with these additions to the village, the community still struggle with enduring poverty and harsh conditions. Without sanitary products, with entrenched FGM practice, and with no medical services, the women face difficult and sometimes fatal consequences of poverty and lack of resources. Death in child birth is not uncommon, and the results of FGM, can lead women to have severe medical complications and unable to have children. Girls without sanitary products are unable to attend school whilst menstruating, and have to sit away from the village, and bury their menstrual flow so that animals are not attracted to the homes. In an area where lion, leopard, and hyena are present – this is dangerous and frightening.
Women and girls work from first light until dusk, and before giving birth, a pregnant woman will collect enough firewood for six weeks, so that straight after delivery, she does not have to make her usual daily forages. Children from a very young age will have responsibility for the entire herd of cattle. They will drive them to look for food, and will be on their own and a long way from their family. They must learn quickly to deal with the dangers that wild animals present.