Menstrual cycles aren’t just inconvenient for women in developing countries – they can be dangerous. Now there is a way you can help.

I’ll be the first to tell you that being a woman is definitely not always easy. We have a lot going on physically, emotionally, and mentally, and I, personally, start feeling especially pitiful when my…ahem…“monthly visitor” comes to town. As miserable as I feel, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in a position where not only do I not have my heating pad and chocolate, I don’t even have the basic hygienic needs required to cleanse myself or protect my clothing.

While dealing with our cycles here may be as simple as a quick trip to the grocery store, many women in developing countries resort to improvised materials like scraps of old clothing, leaves, banana fibers and even rocks to manage their menstruation. At the same time, some opt to simply stay home – missing up to two months of school each year – rather than risk the embarrassment of smells, stains, and discomfort associated with their monthly cycles. Embarrassment is the least of these problems, as inadequate hygiene during “that time of the month” can lead to infections that can lead to serious health problems. You may be thinking, “OK, Hope, this is too much information,” but what you may not realize is that this is reality for many women.

Iracan Charity, a midwife at Zeu Health Center, volunteers twice a week at Bethel Junior School to discuss with girls the importance of hygiene and self-care.

Iracan Charity, a midwife at Zeu Health Center, volunteers twice a week at Bethel Junior School to discuss with girls the importance of hygiene and self-care.

Thankfully, there is an organization like International Medical Outreach (IMO), which is taking action to get basic hygienic supplies to women in developing countries so they can manage their menstrual cycles while maintaining their dignity and comfort. Through My Burlap Bag, women receive materials otherwise unavailable to them in a burlap bag, including reusable sanitary pads made from high-performance textiles and four absorbent layers that are ultra-absorbent, hand-washable, and eco-friendly. My Burlap Bags are provided to girls registered in school who have experienced their first cycle of menstruation.

Sue Price, executive director of IMO, had the idea for My Burlap Bag after hearing about the “problem with periods” from a midwife in Zeu, Uganda.

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Sue Price and Ugandan midwife Iracan Charity. (Photo: Austin Price)

Hopefully, after hearing about this, you’re wondering what you can do to help. You can help IMO in their efforts by donating here. As with any philanthropic endeavor, any amount will help.

It’s easy to forget how small things like this can affect a life. My Burlap Bag is an excellent reminder, and an excellent opportunity to give to someone who’s in the same position you were in not so long ago.

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The first twelve girls to receive hygiene kits. (Photo: Austin Price)