OGHENEKARO OMU, USING TWITTER TO REACH THE DEPRIVED ONE PAD AT A TIME.
I randomly came across a tweet mentioning how sanitary pads had become relatively expensive from what they used to be and I thought, ‘how are the girls in IDP camps coping’?
This was the exact moment that Sanitary Aid NG, a non-profit organization founded by Oghenekaro was birthed. Her time serving as a volunteer at IDP camps in Nigeria enabled her have links to them. She states that from a single tweet, she received over a million Naira in less than a week which not only speaks to the power of social media but the altruistic nature and humanness of the Nigerian public. A virtue many of us forget still exists with all the chaos goes on.
Karo was able to quickly put together a team that would deliver sanitary pads in Internally Displaced Persons camps and public schools in Lagos, Jos and Abuja states. She mentions that she was quick to discover that it wasn’t just about the sanitary pads however, it became a lot more. To her surprise, these young girls had little to no education on sanitary hygiene and needed to be educated on the importance of using sanitary pads. She also mentioned how she alongside her team also had to destigmatise them from menstruation. ‘A period isn’t a bad thing’, she mentions ‘but these girls feel like it is’. She speaks on how many miss out on school during this period because of how they are made to feel.
In mixed schools, Karo and her team would have the boys carry the pads, free from any packaging to enable them get used to seeing sanitary pads and help remove the stigma that came with a girl being on her period. In all occasions, she mentions how it worked. A particular school dear to Karo’s heart is a school for deaf girls which she mentions herself and her team visited. She still gets videos from these young girls to date because they are so thankful.
When we think of helping the less privileged. We think food and water, that’s good too but this is also significant as it’s one less thing to worry about.
When she’s not advocating for free sanitary pads in Nigeria, you can find her sharing her on Twitter via @duchesskk sharing her opinions on issues across the globe. Known for her wise, opinionated tweets, Karo is also a new mother. When I had the phone call interview with her, she was rushing off to work just three weeks after giving birth to her beautiful little one. In her words, she wanted to know that she could still do the heavy lifting she could do pre-pregnancy.
I want to test myself, if I can’t do it then at least I’ll know I tried.
Her high sense of determination to accomplish what others might deem impossible is what has set her apart from many others who have the keen sense to do good but never quite get around to doing it. Karo is proof that social issues that are put out on social media shouldn’t just be words, they can be supplemented with actions. She fondly recalls the school for deaf girls which her organisation had visited and how on going past the school, the students recognised some of her fellow volunteers and couldn’t stop hugging themm and taking selfies with them.
She gives meaning to the popular quote: ‘People might not remember you for what you’ve done but they’ll remember you for how you made them feel’.
When asked her future plans for Sanitary aid, she mentions how she would love to do more brand partnerships like she has done with leading organisation, Stand to end rape which is also a non-profit organization geared towards fighting the rape culture in the Nigerian society. She goes on to mention that the real plan for Sanitary aid’s future would be advocacy; being able to get to a stage where the organization would be redundant because Government has come to a point where it cites this as a real need and would now cater to young girls in the country by giving them sanitary pads for free.
We’re also hopeful for a future like this but in the interim, we’re very thankful we have young, brave women like Oghenekaro around.
For more enquiries on how to be a part of this initiative, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit thir website: www.saintaryaidng.com