The Hive supporting the Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)

The Hive, which is the first zero-waste project in Malaysia and has been in KL for three years, contacted the ABWM Charity coordinator team to help them with a corporate social responsibility programme which they wanted to initiate with WAO; particularly as ABWM were already supporting WAO. The Women’s Aid Organization is a very practical […]

Tags: The Hive supporting the Women’s Aid Organization
WAO staff after the talk and happy to introduce the pads to their clients.

The Hive, which is the first zero-waste project in Malaysia and has been in KL for three years, contacted the ABWM Charity coordinator team to help them with a corporate social responsibility programme which they wanted to initiate with WAO; particularly as ABWM were already supporting WAO. The Women’s Aid Organization is a very practical NGO which offers women and their children refuge from an abusive husband/partner and helps them to know their rights, rebuild their lives by providing safe shelter and helping them through the justice system and welfare agencies.

Despite the heavy workload at WAO, we managed to coordinate our diaries to meet in mid-June. The Hive wanted to offer reusable sanitary pads to WAO. This is an initiative brought in as there is so much plastic used in disposable sanitary pads affecting the environment throughout the globe. In addition, the cost of buying sanitary pads can be very expensive for women and young girls from underprivileged families, particularly in third world countries, forcing them to miss work and school respectively, when they have their menses; especially, on the first day of their period.

ABWM approached WAO, as the ladies who are in their refuge centre have very little financial means and will often have to decide between buying food for the family or buying sanitary pads; of course, you will always buy food to feed your children over your own personal needs. This becomes a real issue when they are trying to restart their lives again after leaving the WAO refuge and are managing their own finances without any help from WAO. The Hive wanted to offer a small selection of sanitary pads initially and see how they are received by the ladies, with a view to providing more if the ladies liked using them. Upon arrival at WAO Headquarters, Claire Sancelot, the Director of The Hive and myself were warmly greeted by Sumitra, the Executive Director for WAO. Sumitra explained how they embraced the motto reuse, reduce and recycle, particularly among the children. They were interested in becoming more ‘green’ and one such initiative was to encourage the children at the children’s centre to be involved in gardening. Thereby, helping them to understand where food comes from and encouraging the children to eat vegetables, which as most parents know, is no easy task! In no time at all, Claire was readily explaining to all the female staff, Interns and volunteers at WAO Headquarters the benefits of the reusable sanitary pads. Claire explained how The Hive has a factory in China which produces some of their items for sale. It is overseen by them and therefore, they are able to ensure the factory workers are properly paid and well managed. She then further explained how to use the pads and the need for them to be placed into tight panties and the wings fastened into place, using the snap fasteners to prevent slipping. One member of staff had already tried them but was unsure how to clean the pads and therefore, did not re-use again. Claire agreed, that ‘initially you will not be sure about the product, but if you have it in your drawer, one day you will think, I am going to give this a try and then you will probably carry on using them’. It is about getting over the initial dislike or possible revulsion to using something which we see as ‘dirty’ and re-using. However, the pads will have been thoroughly cleaned, odourless and will not stain. Claire explained how to clean the pads in the shower and wash/rub through with soap and water a couple of times, then put in the washing machine with the rest of your wash. They will dry overnight. The pads will come out soft and fluffy again and can be re-used for up to ten years…..yes, that’s right – up to 10 years! Imagine the savings you would make and not to mention how much better for our planet, as there is no plastic involved. The pads are waterproof and come in three sizes, medium-large and panty liner. After use, they can be folded and closed shut, put in a small waterproof toiletry bag or a waterproof pouch from The Hive until you are able to wash. The staff all remarked upon how the pads were so soft to touch and how they found this appealing for use. Claire suggested you may need a minimum of six sanitary pads for a 5-day period.

We then made our way into the Refuge centre and met the staff. Claire introduced the reusable sanitary pads again to the Social Workers who wanted the ladies in WAO to be offered the free reusable sanitary pads. Interestingly, one member of staff had tried them and had the same reaction as the staff member before, not knowing how to properly clean before re-using. All the staff were keen to use the product and to introduce the WAO refuge ladies to the product. They could see the potential benefits both financially and to the environment.

We were then introduced to the ladies from the Refuge Centre and all were very interested to learn more. Claire gave her talk again whilst a member of staff translated in Bahasa Melayu. The ladies and a young girl of 16 who was present, all wanted to try the reusable sanitary pads and see how they worked. They were particularly enamoured to find out the cost would be free for them, as they are always looking at ways to reduce their monthly expenditure. The large pads cost RM25, medium RM20, and the panty liner RM15.

Claire also briefly introduced the menstruation cup to the ladies which she would also be pleased to supply for ladies above the age of 19 if requested. Any younger and the girls may not be mature enough to cope with using the cup. The Hive produces its own cup which is called the hivette.

Claire and I left the Refuge centre feeling that the ladies and staff alike genuinely liked the reusable sanitary pads. However, we shall wait and see how they view them after a trial of a few months.

Claire and Sumitra have exchanged contact details and will see if there is anything else which they may be able to collaborate on, to improve the lives for these ladies who find themselves sheltering in the WAO Refuge Centre. We hope there will be a fruitful partnership between the two organisations, benefiting each other. We wish you both lots of luck with your future ventures.

The Hive currently has stores in Bangsar and Ampang and are seeking to expand another three outlets by the end of August.

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