Two Cape Town initiatives run for sanitary pads

Two initiatives in Cape Town encourage runners and cyclists to take part in races for a good cause — to raise funds for and to collect sanitary pads for schoolgirls and homeless women.

Koinonia Baloyi is set to run the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon on 23 April to raise the profile of Girls with Wiings. The project distributes sanitary pads to homeless women from central Cape Town southwards to Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory, Mowbray, Rondebosch, Claremont, Wynberg, Kenilworth and Lansdowne. (Image: Troy Finch)

Melissa Javan
Cape Town initiatives #Running4Pads and Girls with Wiings both achieved big goals in the past month. #Running4Pads reached its target of collecting 6,000 sanitary pads for school girls, and Girls with Wiings set a new goal of fundraising R20,000 to buy sanitary pads and toiletries for homeless women.

Girls with Wiings made its first target of R10,000 through the Thundafund website. Koinonia Baloyi, the founder of the initiative, aims to run the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon on 23 April 2017. The theme for this race is #ReasonToRun.

Several members of the #Running4Pads team took part in the half and ultra races of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on 15 April 2017. Before the race, the team did a sanitary pad drive to collect their targeted amount.

#Running4Pads

Amanda Smith started #Running4Pads in 2016 when she was training for her first marathon.

She contacted the non-profitable organisation, Sponsor an African Child, which runs a sanitary campaign. It immediately agreed to partner with Smith. Besides the sanitary pads campaign, the organisation also hosts events such as career days.

Amanda Smith running
The #Running4Pads ambassador team consists of eight runners and two cyclists. Amanda Smith, founder of the initiative, says they run sanitary pad drives that usually form part of a larger campaign in the build up to an event. “This is usually a week or two before the race,” she says. (Image supplied)

Smith completed Cape Town Marathon in 2016 and collected more than 1,800 packs of sanitary pads. She decided that in 2017 she wanted to go bigger and get a team together to run for pads and raise more donations.

The plan for 2017 was to run the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in April, and then to run the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in September, both with a target of 6,000 packs of sanitary pads.

“The #Running4Pads campaign was incredible. [By] 14 April 2017, we had collected 6,004 packs of sanitary pads. We still have some to collect over the next week or so. We will be starting distribution in the next week to schools,” says Smith.

About doing the ultra run, she says: “The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon was the toughest 56km of my life. I finished in 6h45min and would do it again in a heartbeat!

“I felt every emotion from wanting to give up and not believing in myself to the highest of high pride, accomplishment and joy as I was running the last metres towards the finish line.

“Throughout the entire race I thought that if we could reach the impossible of collecting 6,000 packs of pads, I could reach the impossible by running 56km. That was my motivation.”

Other members of the #Running4Pads team who took part in the Two Oceans ultra marathon were Zamangoma Mtlhare, Emily Lilford and Joseph Thomas. Runners Melanie Vollenhoven, Bridget Wilson, Gloria Chitedza and Pippa Green completed the half marathon.

#Running4Pads share posts of its achievements on its Facebook page:

Girls with Wiings

The Girls with Wiings initiative collects and distributes sanitary products and soap to homeless women from central Cape Town to Lansdowne each month. “We have been running since May 2016 and we are currently reaching close to 200 women each month,” says Baloyi.

“The heart of Girls with Wiings is to sow hope and restore the dignity of homeless women by providing for their basic hygiene needs.”

The founder

Girls with Wiings was founded by Baloyi after she read an article about the monthly challenge faced by homeless women, who had no access to sanitary products.

She remembers reading that these women have to make use of napkins, cloth, tissue and other materials during their menstrual period. “I was moved to do more than just feel sorry for them. I decided to make a difference,” says Baloyi.

“I have been working to connect a network of people who want to help make a difference.

“We collected as many sanitary pads as we could that month for as many homeless women we could reach. And we have been collecting and distributing sanitary pads monthly ever since.”

 Koinonia Baloyi running
Girls with Wiings consists of a team of 15 people. Founder Koinonia Baloyi says one of the highlights is the initiative’s first Christmas drive in December 2016. “We collected and distributed close to 150 Christmas bags for homeless women. The bags were filled with sanitary pads, soap, underwear, facecloth, a chocolate and a message of hope.” (Image: Troy Finch)

Running the London Marathon

Baloyi says she enjoys outdoor running. “It is my way of relaxing and enjoying the beauty of nature.”

She won a charity entry for the London Marathon. “I saw this as an amazing opportunity to challenge myself to finally run my first full marathon (42.2km) and to make a difference in a project in which I truly believe.

“There are many sanitary drives, campaigns and projects all over the country, many of which focus on providing sanitary products to high schools to keep girls in school,” she says. “This is amazing, but only a handful of all these projects support and cater for homeless women and especially homeless still living on the streets.

“I love Girls with Wiings because this project dares to go where many people don’t go. Each month we go to the train stations, bus stops, taxi ranks, under the highway bridge and so on,” she explains.

“We go and find homeless women where they are at and we aim to provide for that need for sanitary pads. A project like this is quite rare, so funding and sponsorship is hard to source. This is why running the London Marathon to raise R20,000 for this project is worth doing.”

Going to London

This will be Baloyi’s first trip to London; she flew out on 20 April 2017, saying: “I am more excited than nervous.

“For the past three months I have been training hard and [we’re] doing a lot of fundraising,” she says. “I am so excited to see all the hard work come together at the finish line, medal in hand of course.

“This experience leading up to the marathon has been indescribable! My passion for Girls with Wiings has grown and expanded.

“I have fallen in love with running and long distances all over again. Plus, I have a huge expectation to see the end result, the success and the fruits of this fundraising project.

“I have really learnt to believe in myself and to push myself to the finish line.”

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