Besides the used books and flip flops, I’d also packed a menstrual cup, bought in the pharmacy. Why? Long story:
I have a business with my wife. We have been donating 5% of profits to a microcredit NGO in Haiti called Fonkoze. Another justification for my Gambia trip was to find a donation destination where I could be personally involved — much more fun. My wife is big on women empowerment, so I searched for a group in Gambia up that alley. I found Think Young Women (TYW). Their website didn’t say much, but it did have a fund drive for menstrual pads, so that girls wouldn’t have to miss school. I thought about this, and got curious. I found a website called Afripads, selling re-usable cloth pads, made by women in Kenya. Sounded like a good idea. But what about menstrual cups. Aliexpress had them for sale for 33 cents. That’s maybe 1/20th of the price of the yearly cost of pads! Leilah Janah’s NGO, Samaschool, had been stuck in my mind for a year: the key is giving work to people. I could set up a business for someone to sell menstrual cups. I decided to donate 100€ to TYW’s pad drive, to help show them I was for real and get me in the door. I also bought some Afripads, 2€ each, plus a whole lot more for delivery. And…I bought a menstrual cup, figuring some employees in TYW could test it out, then I could convince them on a travelling sales women for menstrual cups.
In Gambia, I found the TYW office and made my pitch, first for a Samaschool in their office, then to sell the idea of the menstrual cups. The boss said first that parents are averse to having their daughter use pads. Then after I presented the cup, she said “But doesn’t the woman need to be sexually active before the cup can be used?” I stuttered and finally said “Um, I don’t think so. In any case, the cup could be sold to older women.” Yes, there were serious gaps in my knowledge of female anatomy, especially the workings of the hymen. I departed, since a nice follow-up email and haven’t heard from them since. My wife finds this story hilarious.