Recently #HappyPeriodDetroit, a local chapter of the social movement #HappyPeriod which provides female hygiene products to those in poverty or homelessness, and Youth of Ummah sisters’ youth group teamed up to collect $1,100 worth of products and prepare them for distribution in Metro Detroit. There were products for 863 periods, including 301 kits containing one week’s supply of pads, tampons and panty liners.
YOU Outreach Coordinator Mehruba Akthar, 26, organized Michigan’s first packing party at the Islamic Organization of North America. Mehruba said, as Muslims, it is important to do our part.
“Helping the community is something YOU is passionate about. It is our goal to make a positive impact on the community through initiatives like Happy Period Hygiene Kit Drive,” she said.
Discussing periods is a taboo topic across cultures, including Muslim and South Asian homes, although the lack of female hygiene products is the most prevalent problem for women in homelessness and poverty. It is one of the less-thought-about factors of homelessness, which affects people’s everyday life, wellbeing, and dignity.
According to the Family & Youth Services Bureau, 80 percent of mothers facing homelessness fled domestic violence. Women also are more likely to get sexually assaulted and have dependents while homeless. Lack of access to female hygiene products adds to a load of stress in an already unpleasant situation.
#HappyPeriodDetroit’s founder Jessica Marie Bertollini, 28, of Farmington Hills, stepped up to change that last year by opening the local chapter of #HappyPeriod, which began in California in 2015. She was inspired by its sisterhood.
“What I love about #HappyPeriod is the support and comradery it encourages among women,” she said.
I was introduced to Jessica by a mutual friend after posting a Facebook status about getting involved in the cause locally.
Jessica asked her best friend Danielle Poulin, 29, from Sterling Heights to join the movement. Danielle was drawn to the cause for its simplicity to give back and raise awareness about the taboo topic of periods.
Danielle said, “No one wants to feel dirty, when they don’t have something as simple as a pad.”
#HappyPeriodDetroit collects products throughout the year and distributes them according to need at local shelters.