The Pad Project & Period. End of Sentence.
by Mason Maxam
Around seven years ago my english teacher Melissa Berton and her daughter Helen Yenser came up with what seemed like an impossible idea. They wanted to purchase a pad machine for a village and create a documentary to raise awareness about period inequality. Many women and girls in developing countries don’t have access to menturaul products such as pads and tampons when they are on their periods.
The inaccessibility of these products causes many problems. Because girls don’t have pads, they turn to things such as ashes and rags. This causes infections. Beyond that, girls end up missing a week of school every month. Eventually, they fall so far behind they have to drop out. However, there is a new invention that solves this problem. A man named Muruganantham created a machine that makes affordable, biodegradable pads from locally sourced materials. Better still, the machine does more than just supply girls with pads: it supplies a steady income to the women in the area who want to work on the machine. When Melissa and Helen learned about this issue they were also provided with a solution.
The only problem is that one machine plus a year of raw materials costs eleven thousand dollars. Not only did they need funding for the machine, but they also needed funding for the documentary. A few years later after doing much research, Melissa enlisted the help of Oakwood students (now graduated) to launch a kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter helped them raise around sixty thousand dollars and provided students and Melissa the connections they needed to put their idea into motion. A year later, the pad machine was installed in a small village outside of Delhi called Kathikera. With the help of Action India and Sikhya entertainment,
The Pad Project was able to send a director, Rayka Zehtabchi, and a Director of Photography, Sam Davis to India to film the implementation of the machine. The now finished film which is around thirty minutes long, follows the women who work on the machine and sees them slowly breakdown the stigma around menstruation. We also see an open educational dialogue begin about the biological reason behind periods. After the completion of the film Oakwood students were able to travel to India and screen the film for the women who work on the machine. Since then, the film, Period. End. of Sentence., has traveled to around twenty film festivals racking up around ten awards.
Just two weeks ago Period. End of Sentence. was nominated for best film in the short documentary category. The documentary will be on Netflix in the upcoming weeks! The Pad Project, which is now an official non-profit, hopes to continues there relation with the women in Kathikera as well as supplying more pad machines for villages worldwide.
For more information, visit www.thepadproject.org