The Native American girls and young women we help live right here in the United States. They reside in rural areas where internet is spotty (making online shopping impossible), convenience stores may be the only place to shop for a hundred miles, and the price of necessities like pads and tampons in those convenience stores may be double what you’d pay in a store like Walmart or Target. Period underwear aren’t good alternatives for these students because they typically don’t have access to affordable, close-by laundry facilities, and most all of them aren’t comfortable using menstrual cups. Without help from groups like ours, these girls and young women may be forced to skip school when they have their periods, or use supplies for longer than intended and risk their health.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about Native American students’ lack of period supplies until now. I’m Native American myself (enrolled Citizen Potawatomi) and didn’t have a clue about it until I read a HuffPost article in the summer of 2017, Why Many Native American Girls Skip School When They Have Their Periods. I hope you’ll check out the article, and that you are inspired to learn more about us and join with us so that we can meet the needs of even more students each month. You can visit our website at kweksociety.org and our Facebook page @kweksociety; @KwekSociety will take you to our latest Tweets.
The Kwek Society got its IRS designation as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2018, so all donations to us are tax-deductible to the extent the law permits. We are an all-volunteer organization so your donations directly support students. You can read a report detailing our mission, programming, financials and more at Guidestar. Currently The Kwek Society is sending first-period kits bought from Be Prepared Period, along with period pads, tampons and girls’ underwear, to students in 6 schools in the Central Consolidated School District. We have just been asked to supply 5 more schools in that school district, which covers nearly 3,000 square miles in the northwest corner of New Mexico. Most of the students attending these New Mexico schools are Navajo girls, all students in the district are economically disadvantaged.
We also are sending supplies to Wounded Knee District School in South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge reservations. Students there are from the Oglala Sioux Tribe; 98% of the school’s students qualify for free and reduced meals during the school day.
The Kwek Society not only raises funds and accepts cash contributions and in-kind donations so we can supply first-period kits, period pads and girls’ underwear to students each month – we also work to raise awareness of the needs of the students we support and to publicize and celebrate Native American girls’ and women’s many successes. We hope you’ll join in our work and help make sure that Native American students in rural communities don’t feel panicked when they get their periods or think they are being punished for being a girl, but instead experience the feelings of self-worth and confidence for which we’re all striving!
Eva Marie Carney is the founder and president of The Kwek Society. You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org