Menstrual bank offers free access to period products

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Founder of FeminiTT Ashlee Burnett

Founder of FeminiTT Ashlee Burnett, opened the organisation’s third menstrual product bank at the Family Planning Association (FPATT), Port of Spain, on Friday. The bank is stocked with free menstrual products for those in need and also offers free information if requested.

Burnett said the bank gets products through donations or from members of the organisation.

Burnett said the plan is to open more banks throughout Trinidad and Tobago, especially in areas that are hard to reach. FeminiTT and itsSafe Cycle team have opened three banks and are working on launching more in Buenos Aires and Sangre Grande.

Burnett recalled one bank being opened in Couva.

“I grew up in Phoenix Park, California, and Winter Park was the next village, so it was very near to me to get that there because I myself experienced period poverty when I was growing up.”

She now aims to help people in that area get access to menstrual products.

Burnett said the responses she got since opening these banks have been positive and overwhelming. She said products had to be shifted from the bank in Five Rivers, Arouca because of an overflow.

The end goal, she said, is to ensure everyone can easily get sanitary products and by extension, feel comfortable talking about their periods. Burnett also said FeminiTT hosts discussions on social media to have free-flowing interactions.

During the launch at FPATT people were encouraged to get free HIV testing. Sharon Mottley, deputy executive director at FPATT, shared her most prominent memory while working with the HIV team for over 30 years.

“When we had the International Men’s Day outreach we saw a lot of people, and then one young person tested positive. That person was 20 years old, and that was absolutely devastating.”

Mottley said the team supported the patient through treatment and offered moral support when asked.