By: Denise N. Fabella
Growing up in Metro Manila, part of my Catholic school upbringing was being required to donate to underprivileged communities a few times a year. To get this requirement out of the way, I would donate the usual items I could easily grab from the grocery store. But after listening to Dana Marlowe speak at a reproductive rights fair at NYU, I realized that bras and menstrual hygiene products were just as essential as toothpaste and canned goods.
I told Dana I wanted to do something for the women at home. A few weeks after, the I Support the Girls team sent over a box of 250 new bras and maxi pads for me take and deliver to women in the Philippines. My father connected me to a colleague of his that worked with the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, who was more than happy to accept this donation. My sisters, Isabelle and Roxanne, helped me count and organize the donations. My friend, Trysh, dropped off the donations with me and will be continuing this work while I am back in the U.S.
The Correctional Institution for Women first opened in 1929 as a women’s wing at the Old Bilibid Prison before relocating to a larger property in 1931. The prison provides the women with various projects and skill building activities, such as a bakeshop, a computer literacy program and a crafts room. It houses approximately 2,500 inmates, but only has the capacity for 1,500. Officer Capanang, who works at the prison, said they could use all the help they could get. It was bittersweet to know that there were not enough products to give to every single woman in the prison. Even so, the smiles on the faces of the inmates that saw the Support the Girls donation box gave me the most joy I could have asked for this summer.
Denise recently received her undergraduate degree from New York University in Media, Culture, and Communication. She has two years of experience in online and print publishing, accomplished over 110 hours of mentorship work, and produced two short documentaries in Spanish and English. Denise is from Metro Manila, the Philippines.