Namibia: Women Embrace Reusable Pads

WINDHOEK resident Sophie Booysen is one of the few women who have found comfort in reusable Ann pads since August this year.

The pads, which are handmade with materials imported from South Africa, have a shelf life of four years, and come in a packet of six pads with varying sizes and lengths. Ann Pads is a newly established local company owned by 62-year-old Hermiene Bessinger, with a staff of five workers whose ages range between 21 and 61.

The packet, which costs N$120, was inspired by South Africa's D.A.R.E To Be Empowered organisation, which provides reusable pads to underprivileged pupils.

Bessinger, who set up the company in August, said she saw the need to establish her own company to create these pads with the goal of selling them to non-governmental organisations who can then distribute them to schools and rural Namibia, where the need for reusable pads is dire.

After testing Bessinger's reusable pads in August, kindergarten teacher Booysen said she will continue using them, and save money in the meantime.

"There are small ones for light flow, and medium-sized ones and large ones for sleeping at night, or for heavy flow. They can be easily carried and are absorbent, so you do not feel wet," she explained.

Although she said her daughter feels averse to using Ann pads because she complains that they are uncomfortable, Booysen argues that it is all about wearing the right type of underwear.

Another Khomasdal resident, Mariecha Gowases (61), said she uses Ann Pads to make life easy for herself as an elder who sometimes experiences difficulty holding urine. "They are really great for elderly people as well, and for those women who are at the villages who will not always have access to shops. Even those at the farms will benefit from having these pads," she added.

One of the youngest employees of Ann Pads, Anschen Kisting (21), who is currently also completing her last year at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, said she prefers to use them as they are environmentally friendly.

She added that the pads have different layers for different types of flows, with the large pad having seven layers of protection. The medium pad has six layers, and the light flow pad has four.

She said the pads also have user instructions in Portuguese, Otjiherero, English and Oshiwambo.

Ann Pads is currently using the same facility as Namibia Tracksuits at Khomasdal's St Andrew's hostel.

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