Kenyan taxes force sanitary pad production project to be put on hold

Amy from Loving Humanity
Amy from Loving Humanity.

Sitting at Southampton docks is the St Peter’s Life-Line’s container, filled with equipment and materials sufficient to start the local mass-manufacture of sanitary pads for the girls and women of Kajuki, Tharaka Nithi. It is ready to be shipped to Mombasa, and then trucked to St Peter’s school compound, Kajuki, where a specially built facility awaits the setting up and setting in motion of our manufacturing process.

This project has so much promise for the local community. Sanitary wear is totally unaffordable to the huge majority of women here. They suffer the indignity of having to deal with their periods in very basic ways, and girls in secondary education will miss a week’s schooling every month.

St Peter’s Life-Line sanitary rolls
The material rolls for the sanitary products.

Our project will make these pads available at low or no cost to these women, allowing life to maintain normality. Our little factory will also be able to employ some of our disabled, but nimble-fingered ladies, giving them a small income for the first time in their lives.

But, just before shipping was due, we learned that swingeing Import Tax and VAT would be levied, of which we simply cannot afford… let alone considering our donors’ wishes that their donations are for the benefit of the impoverished ladies of Kajuki, but NOT the impoverished coffers of the Kenyan government, as well.

David Baldwin sanitary production
David Baldwin gets to grips with the production process.

So, we have had to put this on hold. Our partner, the dynamic and determined Amy of Loving Humanity, who is driving this project through with us, has energised her contacts at UN Women UK, who have promised to try and influence the situation.

We at St Peter’s will also try and press every button at the Kenyan end, starting with a personal letter to Uhuru Kenyatta – on the grounds of my commonality with him as a St Mary’s Old Boy (SMOB).

Hmm… we’ll see… Kazi ya Mungu pia…??

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