Rich in culture and history, the beautiful country of Venezuela is currently living the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. The lack of basic supplies has resulted in a collapse of basic services, significantly affecting low-income households. Amidst this current crisis, it comes to no surprise that purchasing menstrual hygiene products such as pads or tampons has become an extremely challenging tasks.
Not having access to menstrual hygiene products often times results in women missing or skipping important daily activities, aside from taking a toll on their households and workplaces, also affects their dignity and confidence. When Venezuelan women do not have access to menstrual hygiene products, they resort to using old clothes or articles of clothing, which can lead to bacterial growth in those materials and potentially cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Menstruation and women's health is generally still viewed as a taboo subject in Venezuela, and often the very little foreign aid that is sent to the country does not include menstrual hygiene products!
But we have good news! We found an NGO that works as a civil associations for women's reproductive rights called Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation.
Spearheaded by their founder, Marianne Lahaie Luna, they are dedicated to the empowerment of women by providing menstrual cups to Venezuelan women in socio-economically disadvantaged situations.
Back in 2017 during the Venezuelan protests, there were thousands of students protesting for a better future. Amidst the constant checking of Instagram and Twitter (due to extreme censorship of typical news outlet), for the first time in her life, she stopped to think about what the women in her birth country would do when they could not find or afford menstrual products. As previously mentioned, this topic is still taboo to some, and often times ignored. She wanted to contribute and help, but wanted to provide a longterm and sustainable solution, not a "band aid" solution. This is when she learned about the menstrual cup, a product that is safe, easy to use and reusable, and can last up to 7 years!
As an NGO, Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation focuses on training community members on the use of the menstrual cups so that in the future they can teach other woman on its use. When they donate menstrual cups to women in need, they also provide information on menstrual rights, they collect some information about these woman to better understand what they use as a menstrual hygiene products and how a menstrual cup could better their menstrual routine. In addition the Lahaie Luna Lezama Foundation collaborates with other local NGO’s to help women in vulnerable situations to ensure their menstrual rights.
When asked what they are so passionate?
“We firmly believe that every woman deserves to menstruate with dignity and that menstrual hygiene is not a luxury, but rather a fundamental human right.”
In August 2018, the co-founders (Marianne Lahaie Luna, Veronique Lahaie Luna and Rosana Lezama)
initiated the NGO's first project in Caracas, Venezuela where over 100 menstrual cups were donated. In January 2019, the NGO donated 400 menstrual cups to a project that will hand out "ecological kits" to Venezuelan migrant women that meet needs that are not usually addressed in humanitarian assistance (because often times women's health is completely ignored.)
In the summer of 2019, they will be returning to Petare (in Caracas, Venezuela) and working with the women in need in the community of "La Dolorita", where they will be donating menstrual cups, and providing an information session on menstrual rights and on the use of menstrual cups. Currently, the monetary donations that we are receiving will go towards this project!
How you can help
Any donations would help provide menstrual cups to women in need.