Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Jessica Nordon, founder of Chhaupadi, a nonprofit giving out free period products to those in need across North Texas. In addition to giving out free period products, Chhaupadi also educates about period poverty, period hygiene, and the stigma that is attached to periods all around the world.
Hey there, we’d love for you to begin by introducing yourself!
Chhaupadi is the Nepali tradition of shunning women when they are on their period because they are considered too dirty, unclean, and impure. For the next 7-10 days they are forced to stay in cattle sheds or mud huts far away from the family home. Many believe that while you are on your period you cannot enter the family kitchen, or the food can become dirty. You cannot go to school as you will anger the gods. You cannot touch a male family member or then he will not have children. There are about 30 different rules that govern women while they are on their period. Many young girls have been killed while being in the huts as they are away from the family home. As well as some being sexual assaulted by random men that come by. This is where I first got the idea for my nonprofit. I didn’t want young women to feel ashamed to go through their period. I wanted to make sure that all women have access to period products with no stigma attached.
My nonprofit Chhaupadi gives out free period products to those in need, educates about period poverty, educates about period hygiene, and the stigma that is attached to periods all around the world.
In the DFW area, we have given out 40,000 period products over the past two years. ALL products have been donated by the community in the DFW area. We have 7 donation bins placed in Denton and Irving. We have donation bins in coffee shops, nail salons, hail salons, and dentist offices. ALL 40,000 period products have been given out to the unhoused population, schools, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens, and single mothers.
We have done 72 events in the DFW area over the past two years. Our events range in drives for homeless shelters, table events with local soup kitchens, table events with other local nonprofits. Most of our events are table events where we pass out period products, period hygiene literature, and snacks. We have had packing parties in downtown Fort Worth where we pack period products into bags with sandwiches and hit the streets of Fort Worth. We then pass out these products to the local homeless population. We have even done events with local refugees from the middle east that were placed in Dallas to talk about period product options.
Chhaupadi Period Cabinet Program
We also have a period cabinet program. We install cabinets in local communities that do not offer free period products to the community that they serve. We then restock the cabinets with free period products for the community to take when they need them.
We currently have 13 period cabinets:
- 1 period cabinet at Pilot point Elementary
- 3 period cabinets at Pilot Point Middle school
- 4 period cabinets at Pilot Point High School
- 1 period cabinet at Denton Treatment Center for people recovering from addiction
- 1 period cabinet at Our Daily Bread which is a local soup kitchen
- 1 period cabinet chained to a tree outside of Denton Thrift Giant for the local unhoused community
- 1 period cabinet in All Things Made New which is a mentoring program for underprivileged youth
- 1 period cabinet at Lake Dallas High school
The cabinets do need to be restocked very often. In 8 months, the Pilot Point School district has used close to 5,000 period products. Our Daily Bread soup kitchen period cabinet needs to be restocked every 2 weeks. This cabinet does use almost 500 period products per month. And the period cabinet outside of Denton Thrift Giant needs to be restocked once per week. This period cabinet uses about 400 period products per month.
We very recently had a charity event where we partnered with Period Dallas. Where we were able to have our Bleeding Hearts Charity event in Plano, TX. We asked everyone that came to bring a box of period products. We were able to collect 5,021 period products in one day. All 5,021 products were given to Genesis women’s shelter which is a shelter that helps victims of domestic violence.
Our goal is to help other people. To empower others. And make sure that everyone has access to basic supplies such as period products without a stigma being attached.
What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome or has it been an easy path so far?
Challenges that we are still facing is getting the period products to restock our period cabinets and products to give out to the community. Our stock goes very fast. And we are always in need of more.
We know we all have plenty of options, so what sets you apart from the crowd?
Many people do not think about period products being a need. However, schools are not required to give them out. Places like homeless shelters rely so much on donations. We are filling a need that many people are not aware of.
What are some things you love about Denton? Anything you dislike or think could be improved?
I love that the Denton community is so giving.
OK, now for the fun part – any big plans for the future?
We would love to continue to give to the community.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
We are always in need of volunteers to help spread awareness of our cause. We are always in need of period products as well to help the community.
Donate to Chhaupadi here.
How to Connect with Chhaupadi
Email: Chhaupadi [at] outlook.com
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