Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
I (Chantelle) was travelling through Africa in 2010.
On my travels, I met and befriended a young girl called Brenda. Brenda was 14 years old, and she lived with her grandmother and three siblings in a slum area of Kampala.
One day Brenda came to me with a panicked look on her face. “I have malaria,” she said. “Malaria? Oh my god! We have to get you to a doctor!” I yelled. After a few conversations with Brenda and a woman who spoke to the local language, we discovered that Brenda didn’t have malaria. She had just gotten her first period.
A few days later, Brenda approached me and asked me to buy her a packet of sanitary pads. I said no. I was leaving in a few days and I wouldn’t be there to buy her pads each month. Whatever she was currently using would have to do. “The nurse said I’ll get cancer if I don’t use sanitary pads,” Brenda replied. “Ahhh rubbish,” I said, “She’s only trying to scare you.”
After returning to my hostel, I began to do some research. It turns out that Brenda’s nurse was right. Cervical cancer is one of the biggest killers of women and girls in developing countries. It has been linked to poor menstrual health and hygiene.
I caught up with Brenda a few days later. She had taken the whole week off school because she was too embarrassed to go when she had her period. Not only was she facing a whole range of diseases, but she’d now be missing out on a week of school every month as well.
Being a part of Brenda’s experience is what inspired LaunchPad. Menstruation shouldn’t mean inequality.