A group of six people with Abbotsford ties have come together to form the Sahaara Foundation – a non-profit organization aiming to raise money and provide feminine hygiene kits for disadvantaged women in Abbotsford.
Locals Harvir Sandhu, Virpal Gill, Yush Sahota, Jabar Gill, Jaskiran Kaur Sidhu and Jasmeen Kaur Mangat originally formed the foundation after learning about The Period Purse non-profit society based in Toronto.
The idea behind The Period Purse, which began in 2017, was to reduce the stigma surrounding periods and provide access to free menstrual products for as many women as possible. According to its website, The Period Purse has given out almost 50,000 purses and worked with 27 different schools.
Sahaara Foundation was inspired by this and in 2018, with help from their families donations, they created and donated 10 menstrual hygiene kits. Those kits went to Lookout Society Riverside. They followed that up by doing the same in 2019, but donating 70 kits.
This year (2020) they have officially registered as a non-profit organization and are hoping to make donations three times a year. Sahaara, which is a Punjabi term for support, aims to create and donate 100 kits for their winter campaign this year. Kit items include: sanitary pads, tampons, wipes, socks, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, deodorant, protein bars, chapstick and a tote bag to hold everything together.
To help Sahaara Foundation, they are accepting the aforementioned items, which can be dropped off at Thumper’s Patch (32610 George Ferguson Way) between the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Donations are also accepted via e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winter campaign ends on Jan. 23, 2021.
According to organizers, they chose to support menstrual hygiene because they believe it is an overlooked issue.
Sahaara representatives pointed to a report conducted by Plan International Canada that stated that one-third of Canadian women under the age of 25 said they struggled to afford menstrual products.
Sahaara Foundation hopes to provide as many women as they can with at least one period where they don’t struggle with a lack of menstrual hygiene products.