• The workshop was completed by the NRC and opened on 18th December. There are fifteen Syrian women making sanitary pads, incontinence pads and reusable nappies. They were chosen specifically by UNHCR due to their vulnerable status as women who are heads of their household.
• The sanitary towel machines have arrived in Jordan and we are dealing with tax exemption challenges.
• With UNHCR funding, NRC are about to build a factory to house both projects.
• Loving Humanity is in the process of signing an agreement with NRC so that they manage all projects on the ground.
• Amy returned to India to check on the sanitary towel machine order and work out a way to speed up the manufacturing and supply process. As a result Loving Humanity now pays for two engineers and a personal assistant.
• This container arrived in the camp in April.
• Amy returned to the camp for the first time working with the Norwegian Refugee Council. Our first sample nappy was made with the help of a tailor in the camp.
• Amy flew to Turkey to meet the manufacturer of all the materials necessary to make high quality reusable nappies.
• We bought a container full of these materials / a factory in a box enough to make up to 20,000 nappies.
• Listen to the report of Amy’s trip to Jordan on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour
• Listen to the report of Amy’s trip to India on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour
October / November 2015
• On 31st October Amy returned to Za’atari refugee camp to spend a week working alongside the UNHCR.
• Many focus groups were held with various age groups of women to ascertain their requirements and desires. As a result of these meetings we will now be making one smaller and one larger sanitary towel, plus one much larger incontinence pad.
• Following a meeting with the UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) they have agreed to run a pilot project in the camp overseen by the NRC. We will be buying a configuration of machines belonging to Swati.
• As a result of the generosity of Little Lamb Nappies, a UK company, we will also be making and supplying reusable nappies to help with the incontinence problem in the camp.
• Despite Mr Muruga’s initial generosity of spirit, buying the raw product from him made the project financially unviable and it was decided to investigate other options.
• On 27th September Amy flew back to India to meet Swati and Shyam Bedekar in Gujarat and Afzal Shaik in Mumbai. It was a hugely successful trip, with both parties offering machines that could cater to different needs of the project and be economically viable.
• We are waiting for official sign-off from UNHCR that it will back the project.
January – April 2015
• Since Amy’s return to the UK she has been untangling the bureaucracy around getting the machines to Jordan!
• The Jordanian royal family’s shipping company has agreed to ship the machines, thus reducing import taxes and time spent in customs. This agreement was given on the condition that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) agree to the machines.
• UNHCR is very excited about the project not only for the sake of the women and children that we can help but also because we can alter the composition again to make nappies and incontinence pads, benefiting even more of the refugees.
• On 7th November 2014 Amy flew to Jordan. She met with a woman called Catherine Ashcroft, who does amazing work for the refugees there, and delivered forty kilos of baby grows which local mothers here had donated to her.
• Catherine introduced Amy to contacts at MercyCorps, a wonderful humanitarian organisation. Following the meeting MercyCorps decided to support the project.
• MercyCorps organised a pass for Amy to visit Za’atari refugee camp where she had a wonderful meeting with some of the women refugees to discuss the project. They explained that they wanted to use these towels for a variety of reasons. Firstly for their own needs and for their daughters, but also they want to be able to alter the composition of the pads to make babies’ nappies which they do not have enough of. They also need nighttime protection for older children who have started bed-wetting as a result of fear and the cold in the desert at night.
• Before leaving Jordan Amy used the opportunity to shop for winter clothes for the refugees, with £3,000 she had raised from friends and family. This bought 700 winter coats, 85 blankets and loads of underwear for the women, as well as three kerosene heaters for a school, which previously had no heating.
• On 27th November Amy flew to India to meet Mr Muruga to find out more about the machines and discuss the logistics of shipping them to Jordan. Mr Muruga taught Amy how to use and mend the machines, and he allowed her to film everything so that when the machines arrive in Jordan it will be easy to teach the women.
February – October 2014
• Amy was sitting in a doctor’s surgery and saw a truly appalling picture of a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. There were 20,000 people queuing for food in a bombed out street; total destruction. Being a woman, it made her wonder how on earth do these women cope once a month?
• Her research found that although aid agencies sometimes supplied sanitary pads, supply is the problem. It is possible to buy them in the refugee camps but they are so ‘expensive’ compared to the little amount of money they receive from the World Food Program and UN that they are forced to buy food rather sanitary towels. As a result they use unhygienic rags that lead to infections.
• Her husband Tom told her about an amazing Indian man called Mr Muruga who has invented a really cheap sanitary towel making machine, in the process hugely benefitting Indian society. In October 2014 he met with Bill Gates. bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26260978
• This sparked Amy’s vision of installing Mr Muruga’s amazing machines in the refugee camps in Jordan, and then Turkey and Lebanon, so that the women could make their own sanitary pads at a massively reduced price and make a life-changing income at the same time.