Solterre Menstrual Kits

Keith Robertson with daughter Lil pack 75 menstrual kits destined for Ghana. (Submitted by Jennifer Corson)

Halifax architects who designed and built a library in Abetenim, Ghana a year ago are returning to the small village Mar. 3 with 75 menstrual kits. 

"We are maxing out our baggage to the pound and Air Canada will be busy," said Jennifer Corson, a partner with Solterre Design.

Corson says she was inspired to bring the kits on the trip after listening to an interview on Information Morning with Paula David who runs the local chapter of Days for Girls, a non-profit organization that aims to keep girls from missing school because of their periods.

Each kit has two shields (the part that wraps around the panty that has a hidden waterproof layer that protects against leaks) and eight absorbent liners. The washable pads and liners were sewn by people in Halifax and Bedford.

'Life changing' kits

"We'll be bringing the kits to the young women in Abetenim and in return we're asking them to take on learning more about sewing and business by setting up a sewing cooperative and challenging them to sew the same kits again for sale for other young women in nearby villages," said Corson.

Paula David recently returned from a trip to Kenya where she distributed "several hundred kits" to local women. She says disposable menstrual supplies can be expensive and if there is no access, women are often using "dirty rags, pieces of old mattresses, newspapers, corn husks — you name it — in an attempt to try and stay in school."

Like Corson's trip, David's also included tutorials on to make the kits.

"They're so excited just to receive anything new and pretty because they have so very little but then to receive something that they know is going to help them be successful is just, it's so life changing for them," said David.

Corson says in addition to handing out the kits, she along with her husband Keith Robertson, their two children and fellow architect John Crace will be adding solar panels to the library, building waterless latrines and installing masonry hearths.