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Inmates at Kilpauk Institute get trained in making eco-friendly sanitary napkins
To rehabilitate inmates of Institute of Mental Hospital (IMH) in Kilpauk and to create a source of income for them, a sanitary napkin production center has been established at the IMH premises.
The institute which houses female inmates has trained patients who are recovering to operate the machinery and manufacture the sanitary napkins. The pads will be used for inmates and will be supplied outside as per demand in coordination with the government.
“This rehabilitation process helps in creating awareness among the inmates towards importance of menstrual hygiene. We have 10 women inmates who can operate the equipment. We had candle and bag making units in the hospital and this sanitary napkin making unit is the newest addition,” said Dr P Poornachandrika, the director of Institute of Mental Health. She also said, “We found that patients seem more interested in working in this section. Mental illness is like having diabetes. If we are in control with meditation and medicines, things will be normal. But, in case we find that the patient is either unwilling or having any trouble in working, she is moved to a section where she feels comfortable.”
As of now, the inmates make at least 100 pads per day. The sanitary napkins will be sold by the government and distributed to government schools. The income from that will be deposited in the inmates’ bank account. The working hours for the inmates are 9 am-12.30pm.
“We couldn’t make reusable cloth pads because it was getting too expensive for us, and it would be difficult for the people to buy them. We don’t mix plastics with the pads. They are made up of pure cotton. So, disposing them will not harm the environment,” said Dr Poornachandrika.
A Ranjitha, a 55-year-old inmate who enjoys working in the unit said “My father makes pads at Orathanadu near Thanjavur, I used to help him so I don’t find it difficult here. We work in pairs and make 6-pad packets for the government and 10-pad packets for private sale.”
L Shakila Banu from Andhra Pradesh said, “Everyday, three people train us on how to make these pads step by step. Earlier, I used to make baskets and embroider, but now I find making pads a more interesting job.” “I make 20 pads daily. Sometimes, I only mix the cotton in the machine and press them into pads,” Shakila added. Following the success of the sanitary pads making unit especially with the inmates showing keen interest in it, the IMH is planning to start a bakery for the inmates to run. The IMH director also expressed confidence that creation of such units would give relief to patients and pave way for a speedy recovery.