A little while a go I had the privilege of speaking to Nadya Okamoto (recently nicknamed ‘period girl’!) whose passion for mental hygiene is pretty amazing. I hope you’re inspired by her courage, creativity and honesty…
So you run an organisation called Camions of Care, in your own words can you share what the programme does?
Camions of Care is a youth-run global non-profit that celebrates and manages menstrual hygiene through advocacy, youth-leadership and service. We do this through two different ways, one through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products and through youth engagement through a nation-wide network of chapters. we have 2200 volunteers nation wide, addressed over 24 thousand periods
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to running a non-profit?
Fundraising! So, I started this organisation because my family was homeless, and for me, coming from that background, and then becoming an executive director of a non-profit whose main job is essential bringing in resources and partnerships. feminine hygiene products are really expensive. My job as an 18 year old is to go out and try to convince adults to give us money. A lot of it is about learning to be shameless and just getting out there and being like, I’m so passionate about this and you should be to because its holding back half of the population of our world and if you care about global development you should care about periods. So it’s just about really selling it to them. It’s the most difficult thing, to try to get people to give you money without offering anything in return.
How do you find balancing your responsibilities with Camions of care with everything else going on in your life?
I’m still working on finding a balance! Camions of Care isn’t actually the main thing I do, I also work full time right now, I am currently a journalist and editor for a feminist media publication. I moved to LA and am moving again soon, to the other side of the country to start college in two weeks. I live off google calendar!
What motivates you?
I love numbers! I’m so motivated by the fact that through talking to others about the organisation, and seeing that impact in figures. I’m motivated by the goals I set myself. By trying to get into a chapter in all 50 states by the end of 2016, or by the fact that I want to help 60,000 periods. I’m also really competitive which helps!
So you recently did a TED talk, how did you find the experience?
It was pretty unreal. It was the biggest crowd I’ve talked to until recently. It was a really unique experience because I was so nervous I would procrastinate whilst preparing so while I was having these speaking coaches, I hadn’t actually memorised it until about a couple of days before. I was so scared! When you hear the number 4000 people in an audience, you’re like ‘it’s fine, it’ll be ok’ and when you do a rehearsal, the room’s empty so you just see 4000 seats. When it comes to it and you see 4000 people, it’s really scary. At the start of the speech I was shaking and trying not to let me knees buckle, but after a while it became natural and I became passionate, it started to feel like I wasn’t talking to 4000 people but that I was looking at a google image of people sitting in an audience. I just felt like I was alone and just talking to myself!
So what’s next for Camions of care?
We are focusing a lot more on fundraising, a lot more on chapter development. So we’re trying to get more and more people to sign up for chapters because right now we have 34, in 17 states and we want one in every state. We’re going to be launching a policy programme soon, where we’re going to be working on a number of legislative actions to make feminine hygiene more accessible.
Want to hear more about Nadya’s story? Check out her amazing TED talk:
Have a burning desire for change? Feel you need to speak up and do something? It all starts with a scribble, why not jot down a few ideas and get brainstorming, you never know where one little idea and a lot of heart can take you!