Meeting a private need for women in Haiti

The following was previously published in LWML–Canada’s magazine, Tapestry Fall 2011. To learn more about the magazine, visit


Women gathered to sew

Part of the group working on this special project.

ACTIVITY AND ENTHUSIASM for mission projects always hums in our LWMLC/Mary Martha society at Christ Lutheran Church, St. Catharines, Ontario, and over the years the group has excelled in offering diverse mission opportunities.
Recently some members of our group found extra time on Monday mornings for our sisters in Haiti. We were aware that the next Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (HLMS) container shipment was being sent in May 2011 and there was room for more goods. After some discussion at our regular LWMLC meeting of what we might be able to do, particularly for women, here is what we came up with…a ‘Pad Party’! We decided to make sanitary napkins that could be washed and re-used.
We anticipate this project will help with the following…

•    Young girls will not have to miss school one week every month, something which systematically causes educational disadvantages for women and girls.
•    Women who work will not be confined to home one week a month.
•    The health clinic can have a supply for post-partum moms or for other gynecological reasons.
Erna McBride (LWMLC member and also a board member of the HLMS), put out the word that we needed flannelette, cotton batting (this is also used in quilting) and hospital-grade plastic barrier fabric. She also organized our workdays and made us lunch each time we met.
We searched for an existing pattern but, after some trial and error, Gloria Meyer (our quilting expert) came up with a design that is serviceable, has very little waste after cutting and should wear well in spite of repeated use.
We are making these ‘unmentionables’ from cotton flannel with absorbent fill and a moisture barrier built into the centre.  The top layers are quilted, the barrier is attached to the bottom layer, and they have WINGS, making the pad attachable to undies by Velcro. And it folds up into a neat little package to tuck into a pocket or bag.
Two pads were packed into a small Ziploc bag with one new pair of underwear. We added a size label to the bag in French and in English. So far, after five meetings of 4-5 hours each, we have completed 150 bags (300 pads).
And we have a larger idea in mind. We hope the women in Haiti (and/or in our other missions like  Nicaragua or Mozambique) might find they can make and sell these items themselves. It has great potential as a cottage industry.
We know there are other women across Canada who might be interested in making these pads for Haiti, but, for now, we will wait until the contents of the shipping container are received and the women have an opportunity to try out what we have sent. Our part in Canada may be helping to supply or provide the money to purchase the needed materials.
Here at home we are used to disposable feminine products, but even in North America, some women are finding that re-usable = less landfill = planet-friendly!

by Julie Whittard

© LWML-Canada 2011





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