Pixie Cup founder Amber English recently traveled to Tanzania, where she was able to distribute 400 menstrual cups to female leaders and teachers in rural areas. I sat down with her to talk about her experience there and what menstrual hygiene means for women in Tanzania.
Karen: First of all, how were you able to travel overseas during COVID?
Amber: Tanzania actually has no travel restrictions right now. They recommend that people avoid nonessential travel, but I was able to join a group with WorldServe, who were traveling there to help build wells. We had to fill out a form and have a health screening, but travel was actually pretty easy. I was originally supposed to go to Tanzania in April, but that trip was obviously cancelled, so I was super excited when this opportunity came up!
Karen: Tell me more about WorldServe.
Amber: WorldServe is a really great organization, and they’re also based here in Springfield. They work to eliminate water scarcity in Africa by building deep, solar-powered wells in areas where access to water is scarce. In Tanzania alone, 25 million people still don’t have access to clean water. People often have to walk miles for water, and even then it’s not clean.
We went to one village where a well was being drilled, and we got to see their current water source. Some of them walked an hour to get there, and many women came to the hole four times a day to get water for their families and cattle. It was so exciting to be there when the new solar-powered well was installed and to see how happy they were that they wouldn’t have to walk so far for water anymore!
Karen: How do water scarcity and menstrual hygiene issues affect women in Tanzania?
Amber: Water scarcity everywhere disproportionately affects women and girls. When adequate restroom facilities, clean water, and menstrual products aren’t available, it can make it difficult or impossible for girls to attend school when they have their period. In Tanzania, most girls stop attending school after they start their periods. We met only one girl on our trip who was still attending school after starting her period. She was 15. Even if girls do stay in school, they may have to miss 3-4 days every month while they have their period, and they can fall way behind on their lessons.
The task of collecting water for the family also falls on women and girls, so if they have to walk miles to a water source, that’s another factor that can prevent them from attending school.
Karen: What was the response like to the menstrual cups you distributed?
Amber: They were so excited! The response has been outstanding and they’re already asking for more. We started by educating the female leaders and teachers, so they can get comfortable using a cup themselves, and then they can educate the girls in their community on cup use and menstrual hygiene. They are saying that it’s truly life-changing.
Karen: What do women in Tanzania usually use for menstrual hygiene?
Amber: Schools will sometimes have a small budget for sanitary pads, but it doesn’t go very far. Many women and girls can’t afford menstrual supplies, so they have to use pieces of cloth. Because of cultural taboos, these have to be kept out of sight. And if there’s no clean water, they can’t be properly sanitized. Some women may not even have underwear, so they can’t use pads or cloth. But since menstrual cups are worn inside, lack of underwear isn’t a problem. As long as they have clean water to clean their cup with, they can use a menstrual cup. It was great to be a part of a project that is helping to alleviate both those problems.
Karen: That’s incredible. What’s next for Pixie Cup?
Amber: Next month we’ll pass 100,000 cups donated to women in need around the world. So far we have donated over 91,000 cups. For every cup we sell, we donate one to a woman in need. Many of them go to women in developing countries like Tanzania, and we also partner with organizations that are working to address menstrual equity issues in the U.S. We’re always looking for new donation opportunities!
Karen: How can people get involved?
Amber: If you buy a Pixie Cup, you’re automatically giving a cup to a woman in need! And if you buy a Combo Pack, which contains two cups, we donate two. You can also sign up to help fundraise for WorldServe on their website, or even travel to Africa with them. They’re planning a Mt. Kilimanjaro climb for summer 2021!
Your Pixie Cup purchase helps a woman in need
We’re on a mission to empower every woman in the world with a life-changing period by putting a Pixie Cup in their hands through our Buy One, Give One program. It’s a big mission, but with your help, we can do it. As of today, we’ve given over 90,000 cups to those in period poverty — and we won’t stop until every single woman or girl in need has the resources to manage her period with dignity. Visit our online store.
Christmas is huge. I’m not talking about the trees, the gifts, the traditions, the decorations… I’m talking about the spirit behind it. We smile frequently, we think of ourselves less and we think of others more. When we do that magical things happen: we impact lives. In many ways, just by living outward-focused those few weeks in December. As much as we want to continue thinking of others all year ‘round, before we know it we are caught up in our routines once again.
Here at Pixie Cup we strive for something bigger. We have a mission to touch women around the globe every single day of the year, not just the month of December. We want to impact their lives for the better and that is the basis on which Pixie Cup started, by believing in something bigger than me: we.
Buy One, Give One
Anytime you or someone you know purchase a menstrual cup from us, you’re telling us “Hi, please, now give one to a sister who needs it.”
You, my friend, have started the ripple because that’s exactly what we do. To date, we have donated over 37,000 cups to women in need!
The average woman views her period as an annoyance sometimes, part of life, a hiccup in plans. But in other countries, girls are taken from school or women are forced to stay at home that week every month because of a lack of hygiene products available to them. How about a homeless woman right on American soil? She’s worried most about her next meal or where she’s going to sleep, the safety of herself or children… keeping herself clean falls far after that.
We have amazing partners who link us to the many hands and faces of women around the world. Our most recent partner is The Dream Center, whose sole purpose is linking communities in need with resources. It’s an organization focused on finding solutions to homelessness, hunger, and the lack of education that exists all around us; in places near and far. With a vision to transform the world, each Dream Center strives to provide the help and resources necessary to individuals and communities in need.
We think they are pretty great and we’re so excited to be linking arms with them as the newest addition to our Pixie Cup tribe!
If you’ve already purchased a Pixie Cup, we thank you for being a part of our mission to touch every woman and do our part in eliminating waste. If you haven’t made the leap from disposable menstrual products to a Pixie Cup, you now can feel good about a seemingly small decision making a big impact.
Thank you for all you’ve done, on behalf of our team and all the beautiful faces around the world.
If you know anything about Pixie Cup, you know that we have a heart to reach the whole world and offer freedom to all women in the form of a Pixie Cup.
We get to hear the messages of lives changed, and see pictures of the girls that receive our free cups and are able to work and go to school while on their period… but we want you to be able to experience this, too! After all, it wasyour choice to purchase a Pixie Cup that provided these girls with period freedom. We could not do this without you.
So, today we are thrilled to share with you a little glimpse of the big blue sky that is the impact of our Buy One Give One program! We hope you enjoy this interview with Riley Snyder, author of Riley Unlikely and founder of an incredible program called Generation Next that is focused on educating children in Kenya!
Can you tell us a little bit about your story?
“I started Generation Next after my first trip to Kenya when I was 13 years old. While I was there, I was helping first and second graders learn English and, while I was helping them, each of my students – there were 10 at my table – used one short pencil there were no extra writing utensils in the classroom. Most kids can’t afford to go to school so the fact that they were sitting in a classroom without the equipment to learn was where I first got started. Our organization is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides students in Kenya with school supplies, young girls with hygiene supplies, and we also have a school in Kenya that provides a free education as well as a feeding program for over 240 students.”
How does menstruation affect the lives of women in Kenya?
“Many young girls who get the (rare) opportunity to go to school have a hard time staying in school while on their period. Most do not have the resources to take care of their monthly cycle in a clean and healthy way. Most girls use rags (to staunch the period flow). Many girls will resort to prostitution to get money so that they can buy pads. But, oftentimes the girls will never be given the money or they will become pregnant and will not go back to school.”
How have women’s lives changed since they received menstrual cups?
“Many girls’ lives look different because of the Pixie Cups. The cup allows girls to not have to worry about their period and is keeping them in school.”
Were there any religious or mental challenges that people had to overcome before using the menstrual cups? Was it a comfortable switch for them?
“The biggest question/issue was that girls were worried about is the fear of losing their virginity when using the cup. Most girls in Kenya, and in the village that we are in, have never even used a tampon or seen a tampon so introducing the cup to them was a challenge at first. But many could see, once we taught them how to use it, how it could change their period for the rest of their lives. At first, many were uncomfortable with the idea so our organization also provides reusable sanitary napkins so that, while learning to use the cup, they have the option to switch out while they got used to using the cup more frequently.”
Can you tell us a little about your book?
“I wrote Riley Unlikely when I was 19 years old and it tells the story of how God was able to use one of the most unlikely people to help grow his kingdom. It starts with my first trip to Kenya when I was 13, and goes through the last 10 years of growing an organization at a young age. It also addresses the challenges that were presented along the way – not just within the organization but also within my personal life – and gives readers a real and raw view of what it’s like to follow Jesus. He can use all of us and has a purpose and plan for each of us, but it will always be up to us to say yes when He calls.”
We are so thankful to be able to partner with Riley and Generation Next to share the freedom of period cups with women who never had the chance to live every day with the same amount of freedom… EVERY day of the month.
Do you know anyone whose life has been changed by a menstrual cup? We want to hear your story!! Send us a message or comment below!
There’s only one thing I don’t like about Christmas.
“What could be bad about Christmas?”
I’m going to risk sounding cliche for one moment… I don’t like that Christmas ends. (Are you with me??)
Yes, I’m sad that all the gifts are handed out and nobody plays “The First Noel” on the street corners, but there are more important things that end with Christmas.
At 12:01am on December 26th, everything goes back to normal. People hug each other goodbye and head home to turn off the sparkling Christmas lights. Strangers hold on to that extra dollar instead of dropping it into the Starbucks tip jar with a smile. Call center employees stop wishing their customers a “Merry Christmas,” and charities go unnoticed during those winter months when people need help the most.
Why is it that the “Christmas Spirit” is so quick to leave after the stockings are cleaned out? It’s only a ONE day difference.
This year, we the Pixie Cup team are challenging ourselves to try something new, and we want to invite you to join us. We are going to do our very best to hold onto that giving spirit after this Christmas ends. Christmas is magical because we look around and see the people around us. Christmas is beautiful because of the smiles that strangers exchange when it snows. Christmas is meaningful because we pause our busy lives to tell special people we love them.
Why do people stop being kind? We decided that we will not stop. Christmas is a mindset that we should keep alive and vibrant all year long.
To quote Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
How are you going to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your heart this coming year?
We all hear this phrase all the time… and we say this phrase a lot. Here at Pixie Cup, we give a menstrual cup to “a woman in need” for every cup purchased, but sometimes this phrase sounds just a little distant.
It doesn’t sound like someone you know. Maybe someone you love. Maybe someone just like…. you.
It’s like saying “out there somewhere, millions of miles from me, there is a new ‘menstrual cup user.’ Yay.”
It’s easy to think of sad things, and then move on. But the sad things are really REALLY important. Maybe those are the things that we should think about MORE.
Today, we wanted to give you a little glimpse into the reality of what “a woman in need” receiving a Pixie Cup actually does look like.
According to The 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the amount of homeless women in the United States is 215,709. 215-freaking-thousand women. That’s a hecka big number. Of those, probably 60% are likely to experience a period this month.
Take a moment to imagine this. If you are woman in an unstable living environment, you have a lot on your mind. You are constantly trying to figure out where to spend the night, and where your next meal will come from, and are more concerned about personal safety than the “smaller” things like period products. Since you are not coming home to the same place every night, everything you own has to be portable. Also, if you are not able to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet, your period can be irregular and hard to predict. In addition to the simplest of needs such as clothes, toothbrush, soap, and small food items, do you have the extra room to lug around extra boxes of tampons and pads? Not to mention, where would you get the money to afford these items? The cost of menstrual products can be up to $15 or $20 each period!
Homeless women deal with these difficulties on a monthly basis, and have to struggle through the pain and mess of a period in the worst of conditions.
When we provide a homeless girl with a free menstrual cup, we offer her the gift of freedom.
We give her the freedom to sleep without fear of leaks when no restrooms are accessible. We give her the freedom to stay clean and sanitary without spending hundreds of dollars each year. We give her the freedom to be flexible to seek work, and not worry about whether or not she will be able to afford the next box of tampons.
When you buy a Pixie Cup for yourself or a friend, we give one Pixie Cup from you to one woman in need, which will provide her with period freedom for years to come.
Now that’s something to talk about.
If you already have a Pixie Cup but would like to donate another to a woman in need, you can do just that HERE!