Donation & Project FAQs

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• How is my donation utilized?
All donations go to setup, train, and continue operations until plant is 100% self sustainable. 10% of donations are split between administration for getting funds to developing countries and research expenses to improve project outcomes for more sustainable projects.

• What impact will my individual donation make?
As an example, your contribution could make the following impact in the setup, training, and manufacture of sanitary pads.
Your Donation Could Purchase These Raw Materials:
  • $30 - Release backer to make pads for a months
  • $50 - Adhesive to make pads for a months
  • $100 - Packaging to make pads for a months
Your Donation Could Manufacture and Subsidize:
  • $50 - Supply of pads for 5 girls for a year
  • $100 - Supply of pads for 10 girls for a year
Your Donation Could Set Up the Manufacturing Plant, Train Women, and Continue Operations Until Full Sustainability:
  • $30 - Rent for 1 month
  • $50 - Equipment training per woman
  • $100 - Monthly office expenses
  • $175 - Business training per woman
  • $325 - Transportation costs for Equipment
  • $325 - Misc. Tools like buckets, scales, tables, etc.

• What are the cost breakdowns for starting a new manufacturing facility?
Your donation will contribute to the construction of a manufacturing facility in India and then in Kenya to produce biodegradable sanitary pads. Your contribution pays to create environmentally and financially sustainable plants:
Equipment Per Facility - $15,000
  • Non-electric pad press
  • Two adhesive units
  • A UV sterilization unit
  • Two core dies to shape the pads
  • A pulverising machine to process the water hyacinth into pad material
  • Electronic scale, sealing machine, plastic buckets, electrical wiring, work tables & tools
  • Inverter and stabilizer for consistent electricity
  • Updated rented space: partitioning, flooring, and painting
Education and Outreach on Location - $7,000
  • Awareness program
  • Market network creation
  • Community orientation
  • Concept sharing
  • Education materials
  • Travel costs for trainers
Training Women at Cooperative - $6,000
  • Train on manufacturing process
  • Train on marketing and business development
  • Train on sales
  • Travel cost for trainers within country
Ensuring Sustainability of Project for the Long-Term - $22,000
The sustainability component of any project is the biggest factor in determining the long-term success. It is important to start the project with enough support funds to get the business operating in a way that they do not need ongoing support. Business sustainability is estimated to be achieved within 18 months.
  • Ongoing consulting and training
  • Raw material support
  • Salaries and Commissions support
  • Administrative support
  • Business development support
  • Ongoing research support
  • Contingency funds to cover exchange rate risk

• Who developed this project?
After six years in development with a Scandinavian, Indian, and Kenyan teams of professionals, this innovative manufacturing process was developed to convert water hyacinth into an affordable and biodegradable sanitary pad. Village Volunteers spearheaded the program and pulled all of the partners together over the six year period.

• Why is this innovation so important?
The lack of access to affordable, safe, and disposable menstruation supplies has serious social and economic consequences for many young women around the globe. Approximately 23 percent of girls in India drop out of school when they start menstruating (The Times of India, 2011). Girls throughout Africa can miss up to 50 days of school a year due to their period, often falling behind and dropping out (AllAfrica, 2011

• Why is this innovation the best solution?
The water hyacinth sanitary pad is easily manufactured using an innovative process that can be replicated in a small factory by local women. This product will alleviate the problems of other methods that have recently been promoted by well-meaning NGOs and foundations. Poor menstrual hygiene can cause serious health issues including pelvic infections, urinary tract infections, reproductive tract diseases, increased risk of HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, and maternal death (Survey by AC Nielson, 2011).
  • Menstrual cups are impractical where there is no running water and potentially dangerous for girls where they need to collect fuel to boil water to sanitize the cups for the required five minutes. It is also culturally inappropriate in many regions of the world.
  • Reusable cloth pads can lead to bacterial infections. With no privacy to wash and dry the pads, many wash them with unclean water, without soap, and dry them discretely, for instance under their beds.
  • Non-biodegradable pads add to local trash challenges or clog pit latrines with plastic.
  • Tampons are dangerous with extended use and often carry a social taboo.
Note: the water hyacinth sanitary pad is the ONLY pad that can be put down a pit latrine for girls to discretely care for themselves at school.

• Why does educating girls help everyone?
Women typically invest 90% of their income into their families; supporting the next generation. With accessible menstruation supplies, girls can continue their education, break the cycle of poverty and pursue opportunities for a better life rather than becoming child brides. For the world’s almost 70 million child brides, adolescence is marked by gender-based violence, dangerous pregnancies, social isolation and crushing poverty (Girls Globe).
When girls receive an education they:
  • Do not become child brides
  • Have fewer children to support
  • Earn higher incomes
  • Have healthier and better-educated children
  • Learn about public health issues like HIV/AIDS, etc.
  • Are less likely to end up in abject poverty.

• How are women empowered?
The project will be owned and operated by women’s cooperatives under the guidance of Village Volunteers’ and their NGO partners to produce a necessary local product. Local women will have the opportunity to earn a living making and selling the pads. The cooperative employees will share important public health information for women and girls… woman to woman.

• How will vulnerable school age girls be helped?
Past research indicates that illness, lack of money and menstruation are the top three reasons a girl misses school. These three are interrelated as girls often stay home because of lack of supplies and menstrual discomfort.
Foundations, women’s agencies, businesses and individual donors will buy pads from the production plants and provide them to school age girls who lack financial resources.

• What will it take to get the project started?
The first milestone is to raise $52,776 that will ensure long term sustainability and success for our first plant, located in West Bengal India. We anticipate sustainability by nine months. Additional funds over and above our first milestone will be directed towards our second plant in Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria where water hyacinth is invasive and destructive.

• What makes water hyacinth so destructive?
  • Water hyacinth is a destructive and invasive aquatic species;
  • Doubles in size every 6-18 days;
  • Obstructs water-based transportation, inhibits fishing, and decreases access to fresh water;
  • Threatens biodiversity by depleting oxygen in water and killing native species;
  • Is the breeding ground for mosquitoes and parasites, increasing disease.

• How is Monitoring and Evaluation conducted?
Village Volunteers works with local NGOs, consultants/professionals and skilled volunteers who will oversee the training of project managers and production staff. The monitoring and evaluation process will develop strategies for reinvesting profits to maintain production and expand in the future.
Public and global health students and professionals will volunteer to evaluate the satisfaction of the sanitary product, the girls’ confidence to attend school during menstruation, school attendance data, and the ease of pad disposal. Business students and professionals who volunteer will tweak the local business design model and monitor the financial health and sustainability forecasts for each production site.

• I can't donate, how can I help?
Tell your friends and make some noise about the hidden issues girls face without access to convenient, reliable hygiene products. Use social media and invite your friends on Facebook to the Empowering Women. Period Facebook page, throw a party or an event with your community of friends and colleagues. A party kit is available at: