What have libraries to do with sanitary towels? UgCLA and AFRIpads
In January 2011 we at UgCLA invited AFRIpads to our first national conference. Our theme was "Libraries for Health", and Sonia and her colleague made a presentation about feminine hygiene and offered a program whereby those libraries that were interested could act as local distributors of AFRIpads, selling them at a small profit so as to raise revenue for their own library activities. The managers of our member libraries - who are mostly men - were absolutely fascinated: "I didn't know [about the girls' problems]" several of them told me later. Since then five libraries have purchased AFRIpads and are selling them to girls and women in their communities at a subsidized price of 4,000 shillings (a little more than $1.50) a packet, keeping 500 shillings (about 20 cents), and then using the balance to purchase more pads. In the months since the "Libraries for Health" conference these five libraries have purchased nearly 900 kits and demand continues to grow. This program has simultaneously enabled the participating libraries to generate a small revenue for their programs, while also making their libraries access points for local women and girls to cost-effective, feminine protection. Sonia believes that the only reason why more libraries haven't come forward is that it's difficult for them to find the capital to purchase the initial stock.
But so far so good. We at UgCLA have always believed that community libraries in Africa are as much about development as they are about books, and this is a practical way of demonstrating the point. Thank you AFRIpads!