"My daughter, who is 11, has had issues with the pads donated to us. How I wish we could offer her a choice of products to find what suits her best to make that time of the month more positive.”

A huge thank you to Adella, Rose Ann, Margine, Halimah, Evelyan, Imad, Erin, Irene and Mima for contributing to this piece.

The Refugee Union operates mainly out of its center in Sheung Wan; a small but lively space run by refugees. Here, on a busy Friday morning, amidst Chinese lessons, distributions of food and children playing, we got an intimate insight into a less talked about yet vital topic: menstruation in the refugee community. 

Refugee Union community members (from the left) ImadEvelyan, Rose Ann and Irene.

In Hong Kong, refugees face a myriad of challenges, from adjusting to a new cultural environment to navigating the complex legal maze of asylum claims. Financial constraints are particularly pronounced, as highlighted in the monthly budget breakdown below: 

The breakdown of the monthly budget of a refugee person in Hong Kong

Within this budget, which often supports multiple family members, there is no provision for essentials like clothing, personal care, baby products, school supplies, phone access or medicine. 

“There is no money left to afford period products so people must rely on donations. This means they can not choose which products they use based on their personal needs.” explains Adella, Chairperson of the Refugee Union in Hong Kong. 


Adella, Chairperson of the Refugee Union, Hong Kong

Halimah's story paints this picture all too clearly. After removing her IUD, she experienced heavy flows, leading her to change pads every two hours for a week each month. Considering she has three children to provide for, the expenses quickly add up. She emphasized, "Sometimes we receive decent products, but other times, the products given don't feel right and cause discomfort and irritation.”

Halimah and Adella from Refugee Union, with Olivia and Jayme from team LUÜNA

Her sentiments resonated with fellow community members Rose Anne, Margine, Evelyan and Erin, who voiced the same concerns, agreeing that they would benefit greatly from being able to choose menstrual products which better suit their personal needs; be it for sensitive skin, heavy flow or lifestyle routines.

Irene, Rose Anne and Evelyn - members of the Refugee Union, Hong Kong

The topic of reusable period care also came up with an unexpected insight. “It’s interesting when we talk about reusable menstrual products today because as young girls, we used cloth pads which we made from clothing. We’d mostly use these in the home, as they would need to be regularly washed but they worked well,” said Rose Anne of her experience growing up in the Philippines.

Halimiah elaborated on this. “I was excited when I was old enough to use disposable pads my mother gave me. It meant we could be more free with our lifestyles. Although for cost reasons, we were limited to how many we could use every month, so we had to choose carefully when to use the disposable ones.” 

Irene, Rose Anne and Evelyn - members of the Refugee Union, Hong Kong

Like so many communities in Hong Kong and around the world, the women agreed that greater education around product options beyond disposable pads, like tampons, menstrual cups and reusable underwear would be meaningful in empowering all women to choose what works best for them. Particularly as reusable cloth pads featured so highly in many of their childhoods, the idea to explore reusable products was something of interest. 

Some of the community members also collected period care for their daughters in an attempt to pave a more positive and manageable menstrual journey for them. Imad, an Egyptian refugee - whose wife, by the way, makes the most amazing Egyptian food - was eager to join the discussion. "My daughter, who is 11, has had issues with the pads donated to us. How I wish we could offer her a choice of products to find what suits her best to make that time of the month more positive.” 

Imad and women from the Refugee Union community take part in our menstrual health management discussion

For Mima, a refugee from the Philippines, educating her daughter about self-care during menstruation holds paramount importance. "The products we choose during our cycle play a vital role in our well-being due to the sensitivity of our intimate regions. The cheaper ones can cause the problems but we can't sacrifice other things to afford more reliable products. 

Her vision for personal menstrual health management and the improvement thereof for future generations is clear.  “Taking care of ourselves is not just about immediate well-being – it's a lesson we pass on. When we prioritize and demonstrate self-love, especially during our periods, we empower the next generation with the same values. My 15-year-old daughter, currently in the Philippines, is watching closely, and I aim to show her the significance of loving oneself, especially during menstruation."

Through our LUÜNA Impact Projects, we provide LUÜNA organic cotton pads with regular distributions to the Refugee Union community. When you purchase a Gift Card for Good, you ensure a three-month supply of these pads reaches people in need on a consistent basis. 

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