Eighteen-year-old Donna Gamatham on Wednesday launched her reusable sanitary towels project, aimed at assisting vulnerable girls who would otherwise not afford such items.
Gamatham founded the project as part of requirements to enter the coveted Miss High School pageant earlier this year. She was the reigning Miss Mariental High School by then.
"Usually, when one talks about charity work, the first thing that comes to mind is visiting the old-age home, growing a community garden, or visiting the children's ward at a hospital. So, I wanted my project to be something that has never been done in the Hardap region before. That is how the project came about," she explained.
Gamatham, who is the head girl at her school, said it was not easy getting the project off the ground as it required money that she did not have.
She eventually approached Hardap governor Esme Isaack, who was willing to lend a helping hand to make the project a success.
"The materials to make the pads are not available in the country, so I asked the governor for financial help to acquire the materials from South Africa. The office of the governor bought the materials for N$9 000, and spent another N$1 000 to transport them to Namibia," she said, adding that the materials she acquired produced about 100 packs of 4 to 6 pads each.
She added that a group of 44 girls and boys from the Mariental High School underwent training on how to sew the reusable pads.
"Eveline Nakale of the Children's Movement taught us how to sew the pads," Gamatham stated, noting that as it is now examination time, the group will only start sewing the pads in January 2020.
"Once the pads are ready, the life skills teacher will distribute them to those who are in dire need of them," she said.
The ministry of education donated four sewing machines to the group to kick-start the project. Hardap governor Isaack, who also attended the launch, encouraged school girls to capitalise on the initiative, and to take ownership of it.
She said the project will greatly benefit schoolgirls who often cannot afford pads, and therefore stay away from school when they are menstruating.