These Founders Take Women Helping Women to a Whole New Level
The refugee crisis in Europe has become a worldwide concern, with many countries and organizations jumping in to help those migrating from nation to nation, or those already stationed in various refugee camps throughout Europe.
Three women from England are proving you don't need to a full-fledged enterprise to lend a helping hand.
Helen McDonald, Megan Saliu, and Helen Pudney of Essex-based advocacy group, Supporting Sisters, a group that provides sanitary and menstrual products for homeless women, are now extending their support to women in one of the largest refugee camps in western Europe in the French city of Calais.
Nicknamed "the jungle," the Calais camp houses more than 3,000 refugees, who hail from Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria and are seeking entry into the U.K. to escape violent or unlivable conditions in their home countries.
Oftentimes the refugees flee with few belongings, and for women who are menstruating, the seemingly most basic access to a tampons, pads or liners is often limited. Supporting Sisters is looking to change this phenomenon, one delivery at a time.
In August, Helen McDonald put together a crowdfunding page as a call to action to fund the purchase of menstrual-hygiene products and toiletries.
"It just seemed like a thing we should do," McDonald told Ms. Magazine. "There were people who needed things we could get and they we so close [Calais and Essex are less than 125 miles apart], why wouldn’t we do it?"
The van is packed and we're ready to go! Off to Calais to support our sisters and brothers. pic.twitter.com/jot2JhZ0gz— Supporting Sisters (@supportingsis) August 28, 2015
Almost immediately, the three women began receiving donations.
"The next three weeks were a blur of black bin bags full of clothes, driving around Essex collecting donations, and being overwhelmed by emails from people wanting to know how they could help," McDonald said.
Soooo many maternity pads pic.twitter.com/AcoQ1PoBwL— Supporting Sisters (@supportingsis) July 18, 2015
With the money raised, the three founders made their way to the Calais camp in August with 2,000 sanitary products and three new tents in tow.
Given the many experiences of displacement, sexual harassment, and negligence that come along with being a woman in a male-dominated refugee camp like in Calais, the simple knowledge and comfort of having sanitary resources on hand can make a world of a difference.
To learn more about Supporting Sisters and how to support the organization, check out their Facebook page here.
Read the full story here.
Photo Credit: Supporting Sisters, Twitter