Women, Wombs, & Water

I believe that menstruation is a beautiful and empowering aspect of womanhood, and that all womb-carriers deserve to bleed with dignity & access to safe, sustainable menstrual care products. This project is in service to the Women, Wombs, & Waters of Guatemala.

The Problem:
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, menstruation is not managed hygienically and is considered very taboo and even shameful. Women can struggle to find access to menstrual care products and proper menstrual education, which can keep women and girls from attending school and excelling in their everyday lives. Additionally, menstrual care products that are available are often expensive, detrimental to health overtime, and terrible for the environment. Most traditional tampons and pads contain bleach, herbicides, and dangerous carcinogens. They are bad for vaginal health and are rapidly filling up our landfills, or being disposed of improperly. I had the opportunity to witness this lapse in proper menstrual hygiene management first-hand in rural Guatemala.

The main menstrual care product that is accessible & used by women in rural Guatemala is non-reusable pads. Some women use telas, traditional Guatemalan fabrics, to absorb menstrual blood which often leads to vaginal irritation and imbalances. I believe this is also due to the very poor water quality in Guatemala, which makes washing the telas challenging. This type of menstrual management also keeps girls and women from leaving their homes during their cycles.

The need for clean water is intrinsically connected with proper menstrual care. Ample drinking water is needed for bleeding people to remain healthy and hydrated. Menstruating people also require access to clean hand washing stations to sanitize their hands and reusable menstrual care products properly. Unfortunately, the water in Guatemala often carries disease and parasites. These diseases can lead to severe stomach issues & malnutrition, which affects children the greatest.

The Solution:
Menstrual cups allow women to have a safe and sustainable method for collecting their menstrual blood for up to ten years! A menstrual cup is a soft, flexible silicon cup that is inserted internally to collect menstrual blood. Menstrual cups eliminate waste that is created by pads, tampons, and their packaging. This incredible technology allows women to go about their lives as usual when bleeding, since a cup can usually be worn for about 12 hours before it needs to be emptied. Menstrual cups also reduce the risk of TSS and candida, because they simply catch menstrual blood instead of absorbing it like tampons. Menstrual cups are incredibly hygienic and very easy to clean. They encourage a healthy vaginal pH level and a balanced cycle.

We are deeply grateful to be partnered with Mahina Cup for this project. The Mahina Cup is a bell-shaped cup, made of the highest quality health-grade silicon. The Mahina Cup comes in three varying sizes, allowing people of all different body builds, ages, and menstrual flows to use the cup. This company’s mission is grounded in service work & supporting women in developing communities.

My Journey:
In late 2018, my partner inspired me to bring deeper service into our upcoming trip to Guatemala. Together we created a campaign to bring menstrual cups to girls & women in rural parts of the country. While still in the states, we fundraised in person at events & trainings I was holding and also launched a GoFundMe campaign. We partnered with Mahina Cup, a US based menstrual cup distributor, and used all the money raised to purchase cups at a generous wholesale rate. We went down to Guatemala with 180 menstrual cups and a 1 page educational material written in Spanish.

The initial launch of our project was an amazing success & we delivered the 180 menstrual cups to girls & women on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Some of the cups were distributed through one-on-one relationships- women that I met in the market, at a hotel, or selling bananas bread on the street. We also had the opportunity to go into a middle school to donate cups and speak with girls ages 12-14 about menstruation, sustainability, and hygiene. These girls, along with all of the women I worked with, were extremely open, receptive, curious, and grateful. Many of the women I worked with had amazing success introducing the menstrual cup into their routines, and when I saw them next they asked if I had more cups to share so they could give them to their daughters, sisters, and friends. I was able to witness first-hand the very real and positive implications of introducing this menstrual technology into rural Guatemalan communities.

What I witnessed in Guatemala is that there is a clear issue with disposal of non-reusable menstrual products. Cardboard, paper, & toilet paper are all burnt. The garbage and recycling situation is tricky- depending on where in the country you are, there may be informal garbage or recycling pickup, however it is unclear where exactly it is taken to after. There is little government support for trash, landfills, etc. Litter is a huge issue. In many parts of the country, all trash is burned. Communities are unsure of how to properly dispose of used menstrual pads, which should not be burnt due to the sticky adhesive material. Additionally, I met many families whom do not have the means of purchasing new non-reusable menstrual pads every cycle. This can become expensive & is unrealistic for many of the beautiful & humble families of rural Guatemala.

As I relaunch this fundraiser & expand its scope of possibilities, I intend to be of service to women and families, to learn from their wisdom, and to make menstrual cups and menstrual education more readily available. I work as a menstrual empowerment educator in the United States. I help people connect with their bodies and cycles, and teach women how to hold their own Sister Circles. This work is rewarding and feels important. However, as I come into deeper realization of how many women in this world don’t have have access to basic human needs for menstrual hygiene management, it becomes more and more clear to me that there is a need for this work to be spread into developing communities and adapted to their very present needs. As a privileged and well-educated American woman, I want to use the resources that I have to help women and families across the globe. Sacred menstruation is my passion, and I have witnessed that we can hugely impact the well-being of individuals by giving them menstrual cups, education, & support.


How You Can Help:
Your donation to this campaign will directly impact the lives of girls and women in Guatemalan communities.

~50% of the proceeds of this fundraiser go directly towards purchasing menstrual cups and educational materials from our partner, Mahina Cups.~

~50% of proceeds of this fundraiser go to Water 4 Life Global, the International Nonprofit Organization that we have partnered with to support bringing water filters to children & families in Guatemala.~

~Donate $40, and you are giving someone a menstrual cup that gives them proper menstrual care for up to 10 years & a family a water filter that will purify 500,000 gallons of water!~

There is no cap on the amount of money that we can raise and the amount of people that we can support through this project! Any donation that you make, regardless of the amount, is valuable and deeply appreciated. We are grateful for your generosity and desire to empower women, wombs, and water globally. Your donation will directly be impacting the lives of Guatemalan women, children, and families; giving them the ability to honor their menstrual blood as sacred and have access to clean drinking water. Please share this link with your social networks, friends, and families!


Further Reading:

What is a Menstrual Cup? Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqQreZj3Zeg 

Menstrual Hygiene Mangement Resources: https://menstrualhygieneday.org/resources-mhm/ 

Our Partners: Mahinacup.com  & Water4LifeGlobal.org 

My Website: priestessingtheparadigmshift.com

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  • Anonymous 
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Organizer 

Laura Carmody 
Organizer
Ashland, OR
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