‘Overwhelming’ response to student’s plea for sanitary towels
“Health and people have always been a passion for me and I am also inspired by the campaigns my mother,Rhohini Patel, often runs for different charities, as well as by my grandfather, who is a retired doctor and introduced me to the importance of giving and caring for people,” East London-born Ameeta Patel said.
Patel, who is studying at Nelson Mandela University (NMU), decided to give back to her community recently by donating R10,000 worth of sanitary towels to Masithethe Counselling Services.
“My mother told me about Masithethe in 2018 and that’s where I heard about their need
for support. “The organisation does amazing work in terms of counselling and caring for women and children in our community and I was moved by their persistence in empowering women .”
Speaking to The GO!, Patel said she had thought about different ways in which she could help women in her community.
“I did some research and was angered and saddened to know there are women and young girls in our country who don’t have access to sanitary towels,” she said.
“Because of this, their productivity levels at work drop or they skip school, forcing a parent to stay home with them. It’s a ripple effect. Being at an all-girls school and then moving
to university, I know very well of all the embarrassment that comes with having your period.
“At school, there were always sanitary towels for emergency situations and our teachers and classmates always were so supportive and caring about someone having an accidental mess or being in immense pain. “At university, it’s the same, everyone is so respectful and
“This culture needs to be everywhere and knowledge is the key.” Patel suggested that all
women and girls should have access to free sanitary towels. “Why is it that something
naturally occurring and uncontrollable is the reason our women are being held back?
“Our needs are not being seen to, while men are given free condoms for their
extremely controllable sexual needs,” she said.
Patel said she started her project in October 2019 to coincide with the Hindu festival of Navratri, a celebration dedicated to the goddess Durga.
“This was perfect timing for me as I was moved by the respect and generosity that people were showering the cause with.
“I was overwhelmed by the response and decided to extend the campaign from nine days
during the festival to three months and, by the grace of God, managed to raise a large
number of sanitary pads.”
The campaign was initially hosted through social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram and was soon shared by people across the country.
“I was so overwhelmed by the response, to think all it took was a couple of posts to create
this entire campaign that’s going to help so many women.
“There really is good in the world and our people are willing to give and be generous,” Patel said.
Masithethe Counselling Services director Jackie Orsmond praised Patel for her contribution.
“I feel proud that Ameeta identified a need and took it upon herself to be part of the solution,” Orsmond said.
Orsmond said they were planning on distributing the sanitary towels to 20 schools where Masithethe had counsellors.
“Our counsellors offer counselling to the pupils in these schools, as well as conduct awareness programmes on our sexual health programme .“There is a programme for girls and one for boys,” she said.