MASERU – About 30 teenage girls have embarked on a project to produce their sanitary towels at Thabeng High School in Morija. These teenage girls are being guided by Nthabiseng Monehela under her foundation, Noma Pads, and the newly launched Ithate Youth Club. The aim of this initiative is to alert teenage girls about menstrual education and to produce menstrual kit. The girls are taught how to sew reusable sanitary towels by hand. However, it was established while producing the pads that the challenge for a lot of teenage girls was that they did not have panties to put the pads on.
“That’s when the foundation decided to help produce both reusable menstrual panties and pads,” said Monehela in an interview with Public Eye. “The panties can be used both when the teenager is on their periods and when they are not.” Monehela further said: “What they do when they are not on their periods is simply to remove the reusable absorbent pads and use their panties.” Monehela said she started the initiative after she was inspired by Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso’s Hlokomela Banana project and UNICEF during the World Menstrual Hygiene Day this year.
“They spoke a lot about menstrual hygiene’s sustainability, and that made me think about how to make these pads sustainable. That’s when I started this project.” Monehela said the club was meant to help those who could not afford to buy once off pads every month and those who do not have panties. The Noma Pads founder further said they have also engaged boys when doing menstrual education, competitions and short storytelling and plays under different themes such as fighting bullying and stigma.
“After the menstrual education boys seem to be supportive and they are able to engage in more competitions,” she said. Monehela said after winning the competitions, the boys handed out the pads to the girls, their friends, and younger sisters. However, she said their challenge was the reluctance of teachers to accept the project. Monehela and the girls have so far produced 130 pads. One of the girls, Tsatsi Tsoho, said the project was useful for them.
“The project is important because some of us still have to ask for money to buy pads, and sometimes there is no money at all,” said Tsoho. “In this club, we can share ideas and ease our minds, a lot of us now know about a good way to take care of ourselves when we are on our periods in terms of menstrual hygiene.” Tsoho further said: “When I get back home in Quthing I will be able to teach my community about all that I have learned at the club.” Ithate Youth Club was established on November 3 this year in Morija. It also exists outside schools and currently has few members who are not in schools.
Noma Pads are reusable pads. They are made of non-reactive materials such as cotton, nylon, and fleece for the best comfort and security. Noma Pads are also an organic accessory brand where they design and create accessories using natural vernacular materials. They recycle and repurpose waste fabrics and collect offcuts from seamstresses around the CBD area to create meaningful work that adheres to the needs of the users and the environment at large.