It is a sad fact that woman and girls in most rural areas cannot afford, or do not have access to, menstrual hygiene products like tampons and pads. Every Month Inc. is dedicated to raising funds and collecting donations to support these girls by providing them with products and education to ensure they have a safe and healthy month, every month. Their mission is to normalize and mitigate the challenges of menstruating in impoverished communities. Their vision is to empower women to meet and manage their specific wellness and health needs by educating, advocating, and always seeking to inspire change. They are celebrating their one-year anniversary in April and have raised over $20,000 for their cause. I am lucky to have gotten the chance to speak to longtime friend and founder of Every Month Inc., Kimberly Machana.
Kimberly is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University in Somerset, New Jersey.
Ben Michaele: Hi Kim! How are you?
Kimberly Machana: I’m good! Just staying inside as much as I can.
BM: I’m glad you’re in good health. Let me start by saying congratulations on one year of Every Month. That is major!
KM: Thank you. It doesn’t even seem real.
BM: What inspired you to start this?
KM: I had read stories of the things women have to go through all over the world. From selling their bodies for sanitary products to disappearing for a week out of the month each month because they have no proper way to take care of themselves. Sanitary products are something people who menstruate need every single month. I knew there had to be something I could do to help give people easier access and to educate and uplift the stories that aren’t being told.
BM: You’ve spent time with Every Month recently in Kenya. What were you doing there?
KM: We were bringing over pads and tampons for the girls in need. I was happy to be able to speak to the girls and try to gain a sense of what they go through on a monthly basis, the more that I can understand their situation the more I can spread awareness when I’m back home trying to fundraise.
BM: What has been your favorite part of Every Month so far?
KM: Getting to talk to the girls we’re trying to help. We held some sex education classes for them. They deserve to have an understanding of what’s happening to their bodies and what they can do to protect and keep themselves healthy and I feel blessed to be in a position to help.
BM: I read on your website that a $10 donation equals 250 sanitary pads donated to girls in need. I was so surprised by how large an impact $10 can make.
KM: Truly! When I first started, I think we were getting 150 for each $10. Since then I’ve been able to get in contact with better suppliers and cut costs to maximize the amount of people we can help. I would still love to find an even cheaper supplier, what I really want to do is manufacture the pads in house, but that idea isa couple years away at least.
BM: How can anyone hearing about Every Month for the first time get involved?
KM: We are always accepting donations on our website and Instagram. These donations allow us to continue sending supplies to the girls and people who menstruate who need it most. I’d also say it’s so important that people educate themselves on period poverty. So many people lack simple supplies they need every single month. There’s such a stigma behind periods in general but especially period poverty and we need to start taking steps to end that. Read about period poverty, talk about it with your friends and family. Understand how unfair it is. If people start talking about it, I think that’s our first gateway to real change.
BM: I’m glad we’re talking about it today. How are you and Every Month adapting to the current social distancing and shelter-in-place orders?
KM: Since we’re unable to travel at the moment to bring supplies over like we normally would, I’m working on setting up hot spots where girls can go and know they can get the hygiene products they need. I’ve found many volunteers willing to house these products and act as a safe haven for menstruating girls in need. In these uncertain times it is especially important we don’t forget those who we real ready struggling before the pandemic.
BM: That’s amazing, I wish you the best of luck. I know your original fundraising goal for Every Month was $10,000, in total now you have raised over $20,000.What’s next?
KM: While I still want to continue raising donations to send supplies over, I also want to start working on something more sustainable. I would love to set up a water system in one of these villages so they could use things like reusable pad sand underwear and wash them. This way they wouldn’t have to rely on single use supplies being sent over and they could have a long-term solution for every month. Sometimes we send pads over and girls can’t use them because they don’t have underwear to put over them. Bringing them water and reusable products for a sustainable solution is my next step.
BM: I’m sure you’ll find a way to make that happen. Kim thank you so much for sitting down with me today! Drinks on me when we can go outside again.
KM: Thank you, Ben! Sounds like a plan. Good night.
BM: Take care!
For more information on Every Month and how to donate, check out theirInstagram, @everymonthinc, and their website, EveryMonthInc.org.
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