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Period poverty, which refers to a lack of access to sanitary protection, continues to be a debilitating concern – especially for a developing country such as South Africa.

However, Vanessa Madito, a first-year Heritage Studies student at SPU, managed to make a difference to reduce period poverty in her society during the national lockdown.

After seeing that many girls in her community could not afford to buy sanitary towels, Madito started a pad initiative by using a portion of her student allowance to buy sanitary pads for girls in Schweizer-Reneke who could not afford them.

Vanessa lost her mother at a very young age. She recalls “ I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning with no food, go to school on an empty stomach plus you are on your cycle.” Remembering this painful experience made it necessary that she helps those who may be going through the same.

“I didn’t want girls to use unhygienic cloths that can cause infection, so I decided to use part of my monthly allowance to help,” says Madito. “The lack of menstrual hygiene products inflicts indignity upon disadvantaged young girls, as sanitary pads are expensive,” concludes Madito.

Helping others makes her happy. This has made her turn a time of uncertainty into a time of giving hope to young girls and inspiring others to do the same in their communities.