Karo Omu


A report from UNESCO estimates that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during her menstrual cycle due her inability to access affordable sanitary products, and conversations about periods are almost an abominable topic of discussion in Nigeria. To complicate that further, because our country is in a recession, the prices of everything, including sanitary products, has doubled.

It was one such discussion that inspired Oghenekaro (Karo) Omu, a social media & brand specialist, to start the Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls initiative.

(Photo: S.A.N.G.)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

On the 15th of January 2017, Karo learned that the prices of sanitary products had increased by more than 100% and she immediately thought of how it would impact the underprivileged girls who had barely been able to get access to these products. And she decided to do something about it. She sent out a tweet

As with most initiatives, once she started, she realized that it was a bigger problem than she’d imagined. So she put together a team of 6: Gabriella Scott, Cynthia Ndeche, Tolani Thomas, Alexa Chukwumah, Ifeyinwa Mbanugo and Olamide Odukoya; with a group of other eager volunteers. The initiative raised over N800,000 within a week, from crowd-sourcing on Twitter alone.

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

Karo and her team have so far raised N1.3 million and distributed sanitary pads to over 1,500 women and girls across 3 schools and an IDP camp in Jos.

This coming week, the initiative has plans to give sanitary products to at least 1,000 women and girls in Borno. And at the end of the second quarter of the year, the Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls initiative intends to reach up to 15,000 girls in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Plateau and Borno.

Speaking to Konbini about her future plans for the initiative, Karo says:

“In the future, we intend to make sanitary education part of communities especially low income ones that don’t have the exposure. Our goal is to reach up to a million girls with both sanitary hygiene education & free pads.”

“We’ve approached brands to partner with us and some of them like Microsoft have been very interested in coming on board.

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

This isn’t Karo’s first humanitarian effort, she’s been very involved in providing aid and food to IDP camps across Nigeria. On her experience on this journey, Karo says:

“I’ve always wanted to do things for other people. Every project is different. I used to want to have everything in place before starting but this project was different.”

“I was determined to do it with or without help. Imagine my surprise when everyone that heard about the project saw the relevance.

“Every girl we reach is a big deal because their stories are different. We get asked all sorts of questions. For some girls it’s their first time owning a pack of pads.”

The initiative holds Sanitary drives every month for willing Nigerians to come and donate sanitary products and/or money; and sign up to volunteer to work with the initiative.

Subsequently, Karo hopes to have joint projects with willing participants to reshape education for the children from lower income homes, and be more involved in social advocacy projects that help improve the lives of the most vulnerable people – children, women and the aged – in our society, in Nigeria.

The initiative can be reached by email or via Twitter and Instagram.

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)

(Photo: S.A.N.G)
Source: Konbini