In the coastal town of Swakopmund, a team of determined individuals is gearing up for a challenge that stretches well beyond the typical test of endurance-the annual Nedbank Desert Dash.
These are members representing the Blush Foundation Team, a group of social cyclists united by their zeal for cycling and by a cause: the eradication of period poverty within the bounds of Namibia.
Across Namibia, the menstrual cycle, a natural occurrence, structurally disenfranchises countless young girls. In what has been termed ‘period poverty’, these girls lack access to sanitary products, a barrier that can lead to missed school days and a stunted educational journey.
This issue strikes a chord within the team, particularly the leader, Alden Strauss, a 52-year-old cycling enthusiast who has witnessed first-hand how small changes can ripple into significant societal shifts. The objective is therefore clear-to bring equal opportunity and lasting change to the lives of these young girls.
Through its dedicated trustees, including visionaries Charlene Hartung and Johnathan Harris, and the teamwork of Strauss and Beatrice Schultz, the Blush Foundation is committed to raising awareness and funds to provide sanitary products. Their approach is hands-on: they raise funds, purchase supplies and, with the help of community volunteers, ensure that these products reach the girls in schools, especially in remote areas, where they are most needed.
The team’s participation in the Nedbank Desert Dash, an event spanning 24 hours through the Namib Desert, becomes an exercise in perseverance and planning, qualities essential for the success of their mission. The team members Eaton Cloete, Lorenzo Hansen and Marius Janse van Rensburg are diverse in background, age and professions. All of them simply enjoy cycling and are more than happy to undertake the challenge for a positive cause.
“The dedication required for the Nedbank Desert Dash is, of course, considerable. Our team balances individual training regimes with group preparation to ensure that we are ready for the race, from both a nutritional and physical standpoint. Our greatest challenge lies in aligning our schedules, but we approach it all in a spirit of teamwork and try our best to meet up,” Strauss remarked.
Their journey to the starting line has been enabled by sponsorship from Nedbank Namibia, which has a dual significance: to publicise the issue of period poverty in Namibia and to ensure that all the funds raised can flow directly to purchasing sanitary products.
Speaking to the supporters, Strauss expressed, “We are grateful to Nedbank for their support. With this backing, we can keep our focus on the cause, as no girl should see her potential diminished because of a lack of sanitary products. We often forget that the ease with which we purchase sanitary products is a privilege not shared by all. For countless women and girls who cannot afford or access these essentials, their realities are starkly different. By raising funds, our foundation joins others like it in the crucial battle to eliminate period poverty. We are immensely thankful for every raffle ticket bought and every donation made, particularly every N$96 that can provide one girl with a year’s supply of pads, ensuring that her education continues uninterrupted,” stated Strauss.
The dedication of the Blush Foundation team is firm, but they recognise that it is a collective effort, and they encourage anyone moved by their mission to visit their website at www.allthingscharlie.com/theblushfoundation to learn more about how to support their cause or to contact their founder Charlie Hartung at firstname.lastname@example.org.