The PAD Project
The Pad Project is an initiative by Zoja Smutny to raise funds for sanitary pads for refugees in Athens, Greece. The Reason for The PAD Project
This Project came about for a few different reasons. First of all, I should say I, Zoja, am half Greek-half Czech who grew up in Toronto, Canada. My family and I immigrated to Canada when I was 7 years old. This winter, I decided to live in Athens to connect with my Greek roots, but mainly, to be a part of the lively international art scene that is currently developing in Athens. Along with working on a new performance piece, I decided that I would volunteer twice a week at the refugee community center near my house, Khora. Khora is a place that feeds between 500-800 refugees a day. It offers breakfast and lunch. It also provides language classes, legal services, a library, and a safe woman’s space.
At Khora, I volunteer in the woman’s space and I offer massages/treatments to all women who ask me for one (Along with being an artist, I also practice Thai massage/reiki/and rejuvance). I didn’t know how the women would respond to my proposal given our cultural and religious differences. However, to my surprise, they responded very well, and my list is full each time I go in.
On my first day at Khora, there were three women asking for sanitary pads. The woman’s space didn’t have any, and neither did the info desk. I was advised that often there are no sanitary pads available at Khora and woman in need of pads must first find which organization in Athens has pads available that day and walk there by foot. Sometimes the organization that have sanitary pads available is located at the opposite end of the city, making it very difficult for the woman in need. That day, I took the matter into my own hands and went to the store and bought some pads for all three women.
There are over 200,000 refugees in Greece and of the 200,000, almost half are women in need of sanitary pads. Most refugee camps, urban community centres and squats no longer provide sanitary pads. It is considered a luxury item. Donations come in bursts and are unreliable.
It was such a simple solution to address the need of sanitary pads for the three women, so I thought… how can the same approach be applied at a larger scale with resources from across the globe, including Canada … and that’s how The PAD Project began…
Of course my initial idea was to focus on the keeper and reusable pads as a solution to this problem. I then realized that I am dealing with a completely different culture. Tampons are not a part of it. Most of these women do not live in conditions with clean running water, and usually they are dealing with one sink, with more than one family… so washing a reusable pad in those conditions is out of the question. A regular sanitary pad is best and most immediate approach.
The goal is to buy and distribute enough sanitary pads for 300 refugee women within Athens for one year.
All the donations will go directly to buying the pads wholesale. I will then distribute the pads at these three different locations:Khora
At the women’s centre and the monthly free shop for people to receive supplies and clothing: http://www.khora-athens.orgMelissa
The women’s centre: http://tinyurl.com/y8zcpk97Armutel
The women’s centre: http://greece.amurtel.org
I am positioning myself as helping in the immediate moment. I want to provide these woman with sanitary pads. I want them to feel safe and proud coming to me for them. I want to establish a relationship around menstruation with these incredible heroines, these survivors of war. I am blown away by the continuous resilience I encounter in these women, their strength, their hope at wanting to survive this horrible situation of being displaced because of somebody else’s agenda of war.How Can We Help?
Spread the word:
Tell your friends and loved ones about The PAD Project. Share the info through emails, social media and word of mouth.
Your donation will go directly to buying pads. There is no middle person or administrative fees. This is as concrete as it gets.
Bringing pads to these women is the least we can do. We are all human… that is where I am coming from. As women, most of us bleed every month. I take great pride in this and I am now aware that not every woman does. Perhaps, slowly, that can also change. But first I would like us all just to try to give some dignity back to these women, these brave warriors by providing them with a PAD.
Font Design by:
KR8 ————————– bureau
ceo + creative director
f +43 (0) 1 99 21 454
m +43 (0) 17 06 24 75