Lillian Maingi-Barasa, or Makena as she is commonly known, is mom to three girls. She is also the editor of Salon Magazine. And she is also involved in an initiative that helps young girls. I had a chat with her, and here is how she gives back to society in her own way.
MT: What is your initiative all about?
LMB: I donate sanitary pads to schools and women’s prisons.
MT: When did you start doing so?
LMB: I stared about four years ago.
MT: What made you start this initiative?
LMB: I have always wanted to give back to the society, and the pads seemed close to my heart. I have never lacked pads in my life, but I usually experience extreme cramps (even at this age). So I tend to think of that girl who besides dealing with cramps has nothing to use…So if I can provide the pad so that she worries only about the cramps, then atleast I may have solved one problem for her.
LMB: We have donated pads in Marigat, Meru Women’s Prisons, children’s homes and primary schools in Meru.
MT: How do you go about these activities? How do your mobilize people? How has the response so far been?
LMB: I mobilise my friends who help me buy these pads. Some send me money, others bring physical pads. A friend introduced me to a place where they make subsidized pads and with only 450 shillings, I am able to buy a year’s supply of pads for one girl. That is an average cost of lunch in Nairobi today.
MT: What have you learnt so far with regard to this initiative?
LMB: That people are always willing to help, and all one needs to do is to ask. I also learnt never to assume that because I am okay, my neighbour is. Until I asked my former school what they would need help in, sanitary pads were the last things I would have expected them to ask for. I had imagined they would say revision books or some mentorship program.
MT: How many girls have you been able to reach?
LMB: We kept 300 girls in school last year in various places, and this year we are hoping to keep a bigger number. We have also dignified 150 women prisoners in Meru correctional facility.
MT: Where do you get the pads from?
LMB: I buy pads from Saidia Dada Network and Pads for Schools Kenya. That is where I get them in bulk and at an affordable cost.
MT: Have you incorporated any partnerships along the way?
LMB: Thankfully, Meru FM came on board this year and are really helping with publicity and fundraising. I also partner with Turudini Mashuleni Initiative, which is a mentorship program.
MT: What do you envision as the future of your initiative?
LMB: I hope to get a solid fund where I can supply pads to as many girls as possible, without necessarily calling on my friends to skip their lunches every month! I fear it will get a point where they might get tired of giving!
MT: You are a mum. Tell us more about that.
LMB: I have three girls who are my reason for living. They are 11, 5, and 4 Years. My 11 year old is towards teenage and we have started serious talks about sexuality and relationships. It is very important for each parent to be the first source of such information so that when they receive it out there, they have a reference point. This means that you have to be as honest as possible with information. We have also discussed menstrual periods because I don’t want her to think she is sick when that time comes.
My other two are almost like twins and want to do everything together. This includes choosing their clothes, colours of their shoes all the way to their panties. Of late, I have noticed they are growing different characters. The middle one is ‘more of a lady’ and the last born is a perfect ‘tomboy.’ They are also very particular about their colours with one being Miss Pink and the other Miss Purple. Their collective Nickname is Power puffs but the last born has an extra, HP (Honey moon Package). She was born exactly nine months after my wedding!
I am forever grateful to God for choosing me to be a co- creator with Him.
MT: Thanks Lillian for being a Mummy Tales guest, and kudos for the good work you are doing.
Also see previously featured moms who are paying it forward:
Maryanne Kariuki of A & J Initiative and Shamim Okolloh, and old girl of Kaimosi girls. If you know of a mom who is giving back to society in her own small way, let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will tell her inspirational story.