Providing Dignity Through Hygiene to Refugees in Greece with Record Distribution

The Unmentionables is conducting its biggest ever distribution of underwear, feminine hygiene and sexual health products.

Austin, TX: The Unmentionables, a nonprofit organization that distributes undergarments, feminine hygiene and sexual health products, along with associated education programs is in the midst of concluding the biggest distribution trip since its founding in October 2016. A total of 15,245 products have been distributed to refugees in Greece in July and August by a combination of The Unmentionables’ team members and volunteers. Many of the products are purchased in-country, keeping logistical costs to a minimum and purchases are determined by a pre-distribution needs assessment. These products were distributed to refugees in Athens as well as The Unmentionables island hub, Chios. In the last two months, the migrant population has doubled at the unofficial volunteer-run Souda Camp in Chios.

“Unmentionable products are often overlooked by immediate humanitarian relief aid, particularly because of cultural taboos, yet these products are crucial to ensuring vulnerable communities are empowered and protected from disease, infection, sexual and gender-based violence”, according to The Unmentionables Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Kaleigh Heard. The specific products distributed to displaced communities are carefully thought out, with attention given to living conditions and respective cultures. Reusable feminine hygiene products for example, are particularly essential for women and girls living in conditions with limited access to safe and private bathrooms. In this case, reusable products prevent these individuals from being in danger simply to change a sanitary pad. Likewise, in areas like Souda camp, where communities have little access to clean water, reusable products are not suitable. The Unmentionables’ emphasis on dignity through the provision of hygiene products puts the needs and preferences of the community at the forefront of this mission.

Partnerships have been crucial to the organization’s ability to provide dignity through hygiene worldwide. Through partnerships in Chios and Athens, The Unmentionables is able to coordinate distributions with existing distribution schedules to ensure all needs are met in a safe, private and culturally adapted environment.

Estimated products distributed during July and August are as follows:

  • 3,600 pairs of underwear: 300 in Lunapads kits, 100 from Days for Girls kits donated by their Crete team, 50 from Origami Customs and 3,150 pairs purchased from local suppliers in Greece with funds donated by ASN Team UK.
  • 520 bras donated by an employee of Yale Medical.
  • 7,745 period products: 4,000 from PERIOD., 300 reusable period panties from Lunapads/Eva Wear, 100 reusable pads from Mayamika including 50 normal and 50 postpartum/night-time, 3,145 pads from independent donations.
  • 3,500 condoms: 3,000 from Vavven and 500 from an individual donation.

Thanks to the success The Unmentionables has seen in the first nine months, continued growth and expansion to serving refugee communities in other countries is planned for the remainder of the calendar year. The organization is currently seeking partners in Uganda and Turkey.

Daniel Berberi