HOPE Crossing Borders

Project Rags 2 Pads…..It’s Time to Make the Change

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Allison spoke passionately about the desperate need for young girls and women who are poverty-stricken to have access to sanitary products.

HOPE Crossing Borders

On a hot and sunny afternoon in August, I quickly scurried into the busy Greater Toronto Area fast food franchise panting, trying my darndest not to be late for my exclusive sit-down interview with none other than Allison Harvey. The restaurant was very busy with customers zipping in and out, people talking or texting on their cell phones and others utilizing the restaurant’s Wi-Fi to access the internet. I spotted the black curly haired woman-on-fire beauty seated at the very back of the restaurant buried in her laptop—I suppose handling business as usual. This woman does not sleep, she is always on the grind. She was wearing a pair of white jeans and a tank top. She was looking like a tourist with a chic white headband around her hair and a pair of stylish big-framed sunglasses placed on top of her head. Her sun-kissed complexion was noticeable, it was obvious that she had recently visited some place hot.

 

We greeted each other with a big and long embrace. Her warmth was genuine. We chit-chatted and laughed about life and what was going on in her crazy-busy world like two old friends who had not seen each other for a long time. Allison affirmed that she had just come back from being on vacation—little did she know that the proof was displayed on her glowing tanned skin. She spoke confidently about the current venture she is working on—might I add, Allison is always up to something…something wonderful, uplifting and positive, that is…hence the name Woman on Fire! After hearing about her latest humanitarian efforts to help young girls and women in Haiti, I was amazed. I thought, could this woman do anything else? It seems as if she has done it all. Without a doubt, I am sure she has plans to somehow try and do it all. 

 

Allison Harvey wears many hats. She is widely known as The Networking Diva, a much sought-after networking and business guru specializing in marketing and advertising. She is the founder of The Networking Diva Group, which specifically supports small home-based businesses, and acts as an advocate and business consultant. Allison is the founder of WOMAN ON FIRE…Get Inspired (WOF), a movement that started in May 2013 that is now an annual conference and award gala recognizing and celebrating women entrepreneurs across North America and anywhere WOMAN ON FIRE is. Allison also orchestrates an annual toy drive called Destination Haiti, a community event where guests can drop off donations such as gently used children’s and adults’ clothes and shoes. 

 

Allison has a heart to serve people, a hunger to give in the purest form and a solid vision to provide better opportunities especially to people in Haiti and third world countries. She says, “I want to give people opportunities to make their lives better.” In her efforts to combat poverty in Haiti, she recently came across an important issue that has been affecting young girls and women there. The topic of menstruation is a globally shared experience amongst all women and, sadly, a globally stigmatized issue that most people are too embarrassed to talk about. Allison, on the other hand, is not one to shy away from making her voice heard. She is outspoken, bold and fearless and not afraid to address this issue.

 

Allison spoke passionately about the desperate need for young girls and women who are poverty-stricken to have access to sanitary products. She strongly attests that having no access to sanitary pads every month often brings shame and isolation to girls that can deeply affect their psychological and social development. Allison says, "Many young girls and women use rags, leaves, paper and twigs or whatever they can find to use instead of pads each month due to poverty. Something that should be easy to access, something many take for granted living in first world countries, these girls and women do not have the same access.” Allison adds, “There are over 10 million people that make up Haiti's population, 50% under the age of 18 years old over 3 million women do not have a decent pad or do not have a pad at all.” It was Allison's intrinsic human duty that compelled her to want to champion this issue. It was her caring nature that would not allow her to keep quiet about the silence that still surrounds periods. Allison knew she had to break the perpetual silence by shedding light on the darkness that has hovered over the topic for decades. She says, "If no one talks about it how do we go about making a change. How do we help people in need?" A change is exactly what Allison intends to bring about even if it starts with just one person.

 

Interviewer: How did you come across this topic? 

Allison: I saw a video of a man from India who discovered that his wife would use rags instead of buying sanitary pads every month because his wife chose to use the money to feed her family. In hearing this from his wife and after much failure he built a machine that makes and dispenses sanitary pads.  Copy and paste to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsYQM03Qz3k 

Interviewer: Why do you think people in the 21st century are still reluctant to talk about such an important topic? 

Allison: Shame, culture taboos and embarrassment. Some women are afraid of being stigmatized. 

Interviewer: How important is it for women to have access to pads on a monthly basis? 

Allison: It is very important because there are serious health risks and factors that come with using rags, a piece cloth, paper, leaves or twigs as a sanitary pad each month. Not using a proper pad can cause serious health issues such as cervical cancer, yeast infections, bacterial infections, urinary tract infections and other infections. 

Interviewer: Do you plan on getting this machine to Haiti?  

Allison: Definitely. I have contacted the inventor who is willing to support me and my efforts by coming to Haiti to show the women how to operate the machine. 

Interviewer: How affordable will the pads be after getting the machine? 

Allison: It will cost about $1.00 to $2.00 per month. This cost may still be too expensive for some women to afford, but it is a start. 

Interviewer: What are some of the other benefits that will come from having this machine? 

Allison: It will help to create employment for low-income women so they can afford to buy sanitary pads on a monthly basis. It will help women with the cost of living, it will help feed their families, it will help with providing better living conditions, and it will help to combat literacy and add so many more opportunities for women who are poor. There are many women in third world countries who are illiterate. The machine will create employment opportunities by hiring low-income women to operate the machine whereas typical employer would not hire women who are illiterate. 

Interviewer: How do you plan on raising awareness to combat this issue? 

Allison: I am organizing an event, “Every Woman Deserves the Right to Walk With DIGNITY.” This is not only a fundraising event to help raise funds to purchase the machine, but to say that every woman around the world has the right, regardless of her social or economical status, to walk with dignity. 

If you would like to support this initiative, please visit:www.hopecrossingborders.com  or contact us at  hopecrossingborders@gmail.com and make an impact that will be life changing and long term for these women and their families with your contribution. 

We thank you for your support. 

HOPE Crossing Borders

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