Nadya Okamoto, just 18 years old, founded a nonprofit called Camions of Care that is working to provide feminine hygiene products to homeless women and girls in the developing world.
She explains her aim to bring attention to the problem and to reduce the stigma associated with the topic of menstruation. “We are trying to bring more attention to menstrual hygiene, since it is the number one reason why girls miss school in developing countries.”
“Camions of Care is a youth-run global nonprofit that strives to manage and celebrate menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service—through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products, and the engagement of youth leadership through a nationwide network of campus chapters,” she says.
Imagine the challenges of launching a nonprofit while still in high school! She says, that “balancing all of the growth with the resources that we have” is one of those challenges. She adds, “We are still a young team and have been running for barely two years, yet we are growing super fast and have lots of organizations that depend on our service.”
Echoing other nonprofit leaders, she says, “Fundraising is something we are always trying to improve on.”
Recognizing the limitations of a small-scale nonprofit, Nadya hopes o overcome them through partnerships and policy to make a lasting impact. “Although we are able to inspire others to join our menstrual movement and distribute feminine hygiene products, we hope to move into making solutions that are much more sustainable, like policy or something that can last long-term.”
Nadya is hoping Camions of Care will make a real difference in global development by improving access to menstrual hygiene. “We are trying to bring to light why that needs to be fixed because its so natural and should be celebrated.”
As part of her efforts to make people more comfortable with talking about menstruation, Nadya delivered a TEDx talk in the fall of 2015. In her talk, she shared the story of the panic she felt when she had her first period. You can watch it here.
On Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 5:00 Eastern, Nadya will join me here live for a discussion about her work to help homeless women and girls in the developing world with their feminine hygiene. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
I’m Nadya, an 18-year-old from Portland, Oregon, and the Founder and Executive Director of Camions of Care. COC is a youth-run, global nonprofit that strives to manage and celebrate menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service—through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products, and the engagement of youth leadership through a nationwide network of campus chapters. I founded the organization two years ago after my family experienced homelessness and I became introduced to the need. In the last two years, our network of over 1,900 volunteers has addressed over 20,000 periods through over 38 nonprofit partners in 12 different states and 9 different countries. We continue to expand our chapter network from over 34 established at universities and high schools around the US.
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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!