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Activism

Student who made sanitary pads in lockdown sends thousands to Uganda for Christmas

“We know these 500 girls will be able to get an education now. That’s a huge thing for gender inequality,” said Pachamama Project founder Ella Lambert.

A student who started making reusable period products during lockdown has now donated 35,000 sanitary pads to countries around the world.

Learning to sew with YouTube lessons, Ella Lambert founded the Pachamama Project when Covid stopped her going to work in a refugee camp in summer 2020.

She now has an international network of volunteers and is sending thousands of pads to Uganda for Christmas

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“It’s been really overwhelming. I’m really proud of everyone involved, putting the time and effort in for someone else they don’t even know,” Lambert told The Big Issue.

Lambert and the Pachamama Project have made over 35,000 pads, and the efforts take up as much time as her Spanish and Russian degree at the University of Bristol.

As she suffers from bad period pains herself, she saw the endeavour as a logical way to help others.

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“I do know what it’s like to have to miss out on really key things because of my period,” Lambert said.

Ella Lambert with the shipment.

Handmade using donated materials, each box of eight pads is intended to last for up to five years.

The pads can be washed and rewashed, and feature a range of different patterns.

Having tapped into the market of people being bored during lockdown and looking for a new project, Lambert has recruited volunteers in South Africa, Denmark and Canada.

“It’s extremely practical, but it’s also something really pretty that they get to choose. I think that’s really dignifying,” said Lambert.

The first pads were distributed to women in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Ella heard of one woman in Lebanon who burst into tears when she heard she was receiving the pads. She was having to cut up her children’s clothes to get by.

“Now she doesn’t have to worry about that, she’s got a pack of pads which will last three to five years,” said Lambert.

“That just feels amazing – she’s not the only one in that situation. There’s thousands of people in that situation in that community and we’re providing a long-term solution for them.”

Some of the pads made by the Pachamama Project’s volunteers.

Ahead of Christmas, Lambert and her mum have seen their living room fill up with pads ready to go to Uganda.

They spent a day listening to Christmas songs packaging them up, ready to go.

“We were like little elves yesterday, packing up 4,000 pads,” Lambert said.

In the two Ugandan communities the pads are destined for, 64 per cent of girls drop out of school, in large part when they start their periods.

Lambert is hoping to help change that: “We know that these 500 girls in this community will be able to get an education now. That’s a huge thing for gender inequality.”

Anyone wanting to get involved, Lambert added, needs only free time and a sewing machine and can email thepachamamaproject@outlook.com.

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