For today’s charity we hooked up with the people at Help A Girl Out otherwise known as H.A.G.O. for short. The organization aims to demolish period poverty while raising female self esteem at the same time.
Describe your non-profit. What problem does it aim to solve?
Help A Girl Out (HAGO) is an anti-poverty organization that aims to eliminate period poverty and menstrual shame and help build female self-esteem.
We create and distribute care packages stocked with hygiene and menstrual products, host and assist other community programs with educational workshops and afterschool programs to teach young girls about puberty, menstruation and self-care and run year-round social media campaigns that aim to raise awareness about menstruation-related stigma, and uterine illnesses.
A few months ago, in December 2020, we were awarded Canada’s Hero Award for our efforts by the international advocacy organization Global Citizen.
When did you start/join it? What was the situation like when you started?
HAGO initially started in 2016 and registered as a not-for-profit organization in 2018, we are based currently in Brampton, ON.
When I started HAGO, I was experiencing period poverty myself and wanted to help other girls in my position. At that time advocacy on period poverty and menstruation-related illnesses was scarce or seemingly non-existent compared to today. At 19 yrs old, started helping by racking up thousands in credit card debt until I decided to ask the community for help by registering as an official non-profit. This was a big step because the menstrual stigma in my culture was a great obstacle, however, knowing many friends who were also suffering, I decided to move forward.
What made you want to get involved?
As someone who has dealt with period poverty in Jamaica and then here in Canada as a student in high school and university, I know firsthand how great the need is and how having menstrual products provided to students will improve their lives tremendously.
How has it changed since?
Today, there are several menstrual advocacy organizations around with the common goal to end period poverty in Canada. The Plan Canada statistic and the 2020 Global Citizen prize has forced the issue to the forefront of Canadian discourse. A lot more people are aware and want to help out.
What more needs to be done? How can our readers help?
Currently, we have 2 projects running that we need the community’s help with. For our upcoming project titled ‘5,000 Reusable Menstrual Pads for At-risk Canadians’ we’re seeking about 100 volunteer sewers in the GTA to help us get to our goal of 5,000 pads by August 2021. We will be providing the supplies needed and a tutorial video. This project is funded by the GTAA’s Nest Fund.
We launched a project in May, the ‘Period Products Support Program’ (PPSP), providing menstrual care kits to low-income families, new immigrants and homeless individuals in Ontario. Most of these individuals lack access to resources and their situation has been exacerbated due to the pandemic.
The need has been great, with most applicants being between the age of 14-19 yrs. We’re calling on the community for menstrual product donations to help us continue to support them until the reusable pads are sewn as this eliminates period poverty for up to 5 years.
Where can we follow you?
Here are our social media handles:
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
The Jean Augustine Centre for Girls