While visiting a game lodge in South Africa with her husband in 2017, Australian resident Fiona Waller, happened to read a leaflet about the work of Sue Barnes and her organisation, Subz Pants and Pads, involving the distribution of eco-friendly, reusable sanitary pads and accompanying cotton panties to young women in schools across the country. Waller, who was astounded to learn about this pressing problem throughout the continent, was driven to contribute to Subz and its non-profit extension, Project Dignity.
A philanthropist at heart, Waller recently established Dignity Movement, a charity which raises funds to further the education of girls. She and her husband have also been involved in numerous charitable donations over the years with Project Dignity their first South African-based charity.
“Reading about Project Dignity, I was instantly interested as I have a daughter and thought of her having to drop out of school if she couldn’t easily manage her period,” recalled Waller. “I had no idea that this was such an issue globally, affecting education and limiting employment options later in life. The thought of all those girls around Africa missing out on education was too terrible for me, I just had to help. I also love the fact that Project Dignity doesn’t just hand out the reusable pads, they educate the girls about their sexual health and rights. That really appeals to me. I was looking for a charity that I could work with and so I contacted Sue when I got back to Australia to get involved.”
The Melbourne resident and her husband, Damien, worked tirelessly, contacting various organisations for financial contributions towards Subz Pants and Pads. Their work paid off and they have subsequently invested in 1 500 Subz packs which they have been distributing to various KwaZulu-Natal schools through Project Dignity.
“We are incredibly overwhelmed by the efforts of the Waller family, as well as the generous contributions by benefactors who have only just learned about the work we do,” said Sue Barnes, founder of Subz Pants and Pads and non-profit extension, Project Dignity. “It always gives us such incredible hope when we witness acts of kindness from across the globe. The reality is, this isn’t a localised problem, it’s occurring in schools and communities across the world and the more awareness, the better our chance of solving it forever.”
Fiona Waller and daughter, Bonnie, as well as Emma Henderson, PA to Damien Waller, accompanied the Project Dignity team to seven schools between 14 and 19 March to distribute the Subz packs with isiZulu facilitator, Nokwazi Thabethe, leading in the educational talks. Of the seven schools, five received Subz packs for the first time. The schools included Sithoizile Secondary School (200 packs), Dumisani Makhaye High School (114 packs), Brookdale Secondary School (90 packs), Siphiwe Secondary School and Mshwathi Primary School (162 packs across both) and Kwatcutshwayo Primary School (219 packs), with Kloof Harvest Church partnering for the donation with Dassenhoek High School (300 packs).
Commenting on the donations, Waller said: “It’s been such a wonderful experience for us to see, first-hand, the beautiful girls receiving the packs from Subz. We love the fact that our donation is making such an impact on the lives of so many girls and helping them stay in school, affording them the chance of a better life.”
Project Dignity and Waller family activation programme
Wednesday, 14 March
11am: Sithoizile Secondary School in Kwadabeka
1pm: Dumisani Makhaye High School in Chatsworth
Thursday, 15 March
10.30am: Kwatcutshwayo Primary School in Dassenhoek
219 packs in partnership with Kloof Harvest Church
1pm: Dassenhoek High School in Dassenhoek
300 packs in partnership with Kloof Harvest Church
Friday, 16 March
Siphiwe Secondary School and Mshwathi Primary School in Ndwedwe
Monday, 19 March
Brookdale Secondary School in Phoenix