Six inmates guided by charity worker produce sanitary napkins to 500 inmates
By Rekha Tharangani Fonseka
They say only a woman can truly understand another woman’s pain. That’s why even when the journey of life takes a turn to the worst, a woman’s ability and the empathy to understand and help another woman cannot be suppressed.
This inspiring story is about a group of women from the Welikada Prison who pioneered a remarkable project.
With the assistance of charity worker Jani Perera, these ladies started making sanitary napkins in an attempt to resolve the issue of female inmates not having sanitary napkins in prison.
The napkins which are being made by six inmates provide comfort to some 500 fellow inmates.
We asked Prisons Commissioner (Rehabilitation and Training), Chandana Ekanayake, about the initiative and he said the lack of sanitary napkins was a large issue the inmates faced.
“Some inmates had their family members provide them sanitary napkins. However, there are some inmates who are on death row and have no visitors. Sanitary napkin is not an item in prison supplies. Therefore, the inmates who had no visitors faced the issue of not having sanitary napkins. Most of the time, we received supplies from some charity organisations. At a time like this, charity worker Jani Perera, who is an ardent social worker, volunteered to set up a sanitary napkin manufacturing machine for us,” Mr. Ekanayake said.
He said Ms.Perera provided the facilities to the inmates at a cost of about Rs.2 million. “She provides basic materials to manufacture napkins monthly even today,” he said.
Commenting on her efforts, Ms. Jani Perera told us that she was simply fulfilling her duty as a woman and was not seeking any publicity. “I have made arrangements to ensure that the supply of materials would continue even after my death and I’m happy about this,” she said.
Some inmates had their family members provide them sanitary napkins. However, there are some inmates who are on death row and have no visitors. Sanitary napkin is not an item in prison supplies. Therefore, the inmates who had no visitors faced the issue of not having sanitary napkins. Most of the time, we received supplies from some charity organisations
-Prisons Commissioner (Rehabilitation and Training), Chandana Ekanayake
Rehabilitation officer at the prison, S.A.S. Surangi Thilakarathna said the six inmates who have been trained to manufacture napkins were either sentenced to life in prison or serving a long term in prison.
“They have trained well. We have named this napkin as ‘Sinidu’ (soft). Our inmates make about 80 napkin packets per day. There are about 500 inmates in here and about 30 packets are being taken from the office per day. I think the inmates who are serving a long sentence have the skills and knowledge to start their own business along this line, when they are released from prison. There are inmates convicted of possessing heroin and other illegal drugs. They no longer have to go back to drugs now,” she said.
The inmates who are creating napkins, explained about the napkin-making process.
“There is a special type of cotton which we use to create these napkins. We put them in a special grinder and blend the cotton. Then we compress them to a square shape and then finish the production,” they said.