EASTERN CAPE, SA – Babalwa Ntombam Mbuku is a social entrepreneur, menstrual coach and the first black female owned sanitary towel owner. Ntombam Sanitary Towels are the first ever to be named in IsiXhosa, a South African native language. Ms. Mbuku shared her journey with us and this is what she had to say.
Why I started Ntombam Sanitary Towels
My name is Babalwa, founder Ntombam Group and nonprofit organization called Operation Feed A Child. I grew up in Eastern Cape where there is a lot of poverty. I come from a Christian family, my parents were in the ministry so giving back to the community has always been a part of life. My passion is to fight poverty.
In December 2017, I started a fashion brand called Ntombam Clothing but because I hadn’t qualified as a designer, it didn’t quite take off. Ntombam means “My Girl”. It’s a term my father used to call me growing up and it stuck. It also brings us together as a community, it is a kind greeting.
One morning I was watching the Morning Live Show and saw a girl asking the Minister of Finance for sanitary towels. It broke my heart that such basic needs were not readily available.
I went back to deep rural areas and found a really great need. I believe that giving back to others is a calling in my life. Not only is it fulfilling but also opens many doors in my life.
Menstrual Coaching For Teens
Most of the girls who live in rural areas either live without their mothers. The moms go to big cities to find employment so they can provide for their families. It leaves these young girls alone and afraid during their puberty and menstrual cycles.
When I saw the need for pads in these areas, there was also an even bigger need to restore dignity in these girls. They were missing up to seven days of school per month due to their menstrual cycles.
They do not understand their changing bodies and need guidance. Unfortunately we have not been exposed to menstrual education in rural communities. Some of them even go into deep depression because they don’t feel clean or understand what’s happening.
Having no sanitary towels or hygiene toiletries left them feeling insecure and embarrassed to go to school. Some of them would even use soil and paper during their periods. My main aim is to get these girls to finish school. Also to protect them from cervix cancer, rape and prostitution.
Ntombam Sanitary Towels
People often ask me where do I get funding from, but really it’s the community that I want to encourage to come together; to make a difference. We do not need funding from major corporations to start investing in our own communities. R100 (6.45 USD) can supply up 5 months of Ntombam sanitary towels for one girl.
Imagine, this is money we spend in less than 5 minutes at the mall. Look at the huge difference it does in a person’s life.
I am doing this in my personal capacity and I want to instill this in our people. Stop waiting for funding, start with what you have.
On my birthday, 28th September 2018 we will be hosting an event, ‘“The Girls Empowerment Festival”. We will supply 12,000 Ntombam sanitary towels to girls in the Eastern Cape. This brand is 100% cotton, no gel or satin and is unscented. We are avoiding allergic reactions and possible contact to cancer.
This program will be both educational and entertaining, we want to make sure that these girls look forward to school. And have no excuses for not attending school, we want to have a huge graduation ceremony in future and celebrate their achievements. We will have a surprise celebrity guest appearing as well.
There will be other entrepreneurs there who will inspire the girls to pursue their goals without limits.
Join the Movement #12000PadsFor1000Girls, if you are moved to donate or participate, Click Here for Babalwa Mbuku – Menstrual Coach Facebook Page