FEMpads for freedom

FEMpads are made and sent by a generous UK citizen named Sharon Multani-colebrook. “Sharon has been a good mother for all of us...  she is making our hearts feel at peace, feel loved." - COFAPRI member.

By Mugisho Ndabuli Theophile, Founder/Exec. Director, COFAPRI

May 2016

The women and girls in the rural villages where COFAPRI operates have been using sanitary pads for three years now. These sanitary napkins – FEMpads, are made and sent to them by a generous UK citizen named Sharon Multani-colebrook.

Sharon is bringing nations together by sending menstrual pads to women and girls all over the world, with no discrimination of colour, religion, origin, or age. Now the pads are being used widely in the rural villages of eastern DR Congo which COFAPRI serves.

The washable pads sent to the women come in various sizes, colours, lengths, and absorbency. The women do appreciate the pads because they bring them emotional peace, and freedom at home and in public. Very few women have found the sanitary pads to be uncomfortable when they are walking. Most of the DR Congo rural women are suggesting that they could be helped in order to make their own pads. 

When distributing these pads, COFAPRI, via their Executive Secretary Bahati Valerie, teaches the women about peace and being fearless and courageous regarding expressing their feelings - though this must be done in a peaceful way. At the same time, they are shown the advantages of using the pads and how to use them. The women like the pads because they are reusable, which is beneficial since they are poor.

The women and the girls in the rural DR Congo have openly thanked Sharon for this support. The women and the girls think this is a great way of empowering them, and helping them to get internal peace.

In rural areas of the DR Congo, most girls do not wear pads when they are menstruating and this does not give them peace. They have to stay home all the time while they have their monthly periods, for fear of people seeing them at that time.

This must change and COFAPRI is doing everything possible to improve the situation. Sharon has been very helpful in this. All the women and girls who have got pads say they are at peace now; they can work and go to school (the girls who go) with no fear. 

Here are some of their feedback (names withheld to respect privacy):

“Sharon has been a good mother for all of us. We have never seen her. We often hear about her from Bahati and her husband. We wish to see her one day, because she is making our hearts feel at peace, feel loved. I think she knows how we are discriminated and how we suffer here. The FemPads she often sends us convey us a true meaning of love, a real way of helping us get peace.”


“In the past, before Sharon sent us pads, our hearts were in trouble. Whenever I got my periods I was feeling shame of me. I was wondering how I will walk outside. What if people discover my blood is running? All these questions show we were not in peace with ourselves. Today, hey no fear because no one will see. Hey thanks, Sharon.”


“The women in this area suffer a lot. When they are in blood, mostly. We had nothing to use and then we had to stay home because of shame, fear, and lack of peace. Sharon is a good mother; she knows what a woman needs to be free. If she can help us to be making our own stuffs here it can help us in many ways.”


“My sister is right: if we can be making these things here, many women will benefit from them. We can also sell them and get cash. Our daughters can have easy access to them when their time comes to use them. We can ask Sharon to help us to get tools to make them here for our peace and development.”


“You know how morally disturbed we used to be before we got these things. Without them, when you are in that time, you are in danger. If you go to the field, to fetch water or take the goats to the meadow, blood is running on your legs. If a man or a boy sees that, you are in insecurity in your heart. So to avoid this, we stay home until blood is over. This causes loss as we cannot go to field all that time.

But today, we got no problem because of Sharon. We want you to help us learn how to make the pads too and we will help more girls and women in our villages here. Thank you Sharon.”

The women and the girls in the rural DR Congo have been grateful for the FemPads made and sent to them by Sharon via COFAPRI. 

They also hope one day to be able to produce their own pads. For the women, the pads can help them and also help their daughters. The pads the women can produce could then also help women in other villages who are in the same situation as they were before Sharon intervened. The women believe pads are bringing them moral peace and respect.

The women had been losing out a lot because of staying home when they are in their periods but today things are OK. Periods no longer confine them to the house. The women also believe that, if they can sew their own Fempads, they can gain a small income, which is also helpful for them and their families.