Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – A helping Hand.

Name: Siphosami Dongozi
From: Plano, Texas
Grade: 12
School: Plano Senior HIgh School
Votes: 0


In life there are these defining people that completely alter the future for certain
individuals, for me that person is a girl I met in the streets if
Zimbabwe, Africa named Judith. I found Judith whilst visiting my
grandmother in the rural part of Zimbabwe outside of the city.
Unfortunately like many girls in rural Africa, Judith didn’t go to
school instead she spent her days getting water from wells and
cleaning especially on the days she got her period. I only interacted
with her for approximately 2 hours but her story has stayed with me
for 7 years. This story is not about the water crisis in Zimbabwe,
nor the lack of education in my home country. This story is about how
the story of one woman changed my perspective. So let’s talk about
periods.

All around the world menstruation is considered taboo and unclean, in
India young girls are forced to go to a hut usually without much food
or plumbing. And the one day I wondered what homeless women do to
keep clean during their periods and then Operation lighthouse was
born.

I have never been homeless, I have always had the comfort of a roof
over my head, blankets to keep me warm and food to keep me full. Even
when I lived in Zimbabwe there was always a semblance of comfort in
my life. So naturally when I was thinking of doing a donation drive
to help people in my community a tampon drive was not my first
thought, in fact I wasn’t even sure on what I wanted to give to my
community I just knew I had to start with helping homeless women and
so my quest to find a cause began and ended in just 5 short days
because Aunt flow gave me a little visit and then Operation
Lighthouse was born. Why not do a Tampon drive i thought, Women have
to deal with “The crimson tide” every month so why not help
homeless women in my community by giving them the thing they need the
most?

So naturally I went to the internet to find out what homeless women
survive on the streets with a period and what I found was a new
emotion , I felt sad and yet this was more disappointment than
sadness mixed with fury and a voice in my head asking me why I was so
surprised. In the year 2016 women in the streets had to use: toilet
paper, paper napkins from restaurants, cotton balls and even plastic
bags. Not only is that uncomfortable it is wrong, in this era of
technology , resources and global connectedness women should not have
to use paper towels for half of biological process that allows
humankind to survive. 4 schools and 300 collective boxes of both
tampons and pads later I was walking into the Homeless shelter with
these red trolleys filled to the brim with boxes of tampons , and
pads when a rather large burly man started walking towards me  (keep
in mind I am only 5 ‘2 and a ½ ) and so naturally I prepared
myself mentally for the insults but instead the man smiled  shook
my hand and proceeded to tell me about how his wife used to be
homeless and the struggle she had when she was on her period. He told
me his name was Matthew and he helped me and my mom load the rest of
the boxes from our car onto the trolleys and proceeded to push boxes
of tampons into the homeless shelter proudly and with a smile on his
face.

Unfortunately I have not been able to solve this problem in our society but I
believe that if I and people like Matthew raise our heads high and
walk proudly with our tampons in hand I do believe, we can start
taking steps to helping homeless women gain access to Tampons and
Pads on their periods. Even now I am gearing up for another hygiene
drive and already 13 high school girls have agreed to help me with my
project. Because if a bleeding finger gets a band aid, a bleeding
woman should get a tampon, period.


Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".