Controversial sanitary kit charity project taken down

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On Jan 18, a post on Chinese social media raised questions regarding the contents of the “Sanitary Kit for Girls in Distress”, a charity project initiated by Xi’an Little Bee Charity Foundation on the Alipay public welfare platform, about the value of the purchased items and the practicality of the products in the kit.

“I must have read this wrong but why are they buying two bottles of perineal wash solution for each girl — is this a way of getting rid of some slow-selling goods,” questioned the Weibo post. “I thought the focus of the project is to provide sanitary pads to girls in need.”

On Jan 19, the foundation issued an apology in response to netizens’ questions, and removed the project from Alipay public welfare platform, expressing its willingness to actively cooperate with donors to issue refunds.

The sanitary kit project was launched by the Little Bee Foundation on Alipay and Tencent public welfare platforms in November 2021 to provide personal hygiene products and related education materials to girls in rural China. The project’s fundraising target on Alipay was 437,400 yuan ($68,747) – enough to buy 1,500 kits.

Each kit included sanitary pads for 35 yuan, a set of underwear for 50 yuan, two bottles of perineal wash solution for 140 yuan, a pack of warm pads for 20 yuan, a bar of soap for 15 yuan, an information booklet for 4 yuan, and a kit gift bag for 6 yuan. It is estimated that the perineal wash products accounted for 210,000 yuan  — nearly 50 percent of the fundraising target for the entire project.

The sanitary pads provided are enough for one month, with enough perineal wash to last a year, explained Zhang Na, executive secretary of the Little Bee Foundation. The product details and usage period have not been clearly explained, and the project design is inappropriate, which led to people asking questions, she said. The foundation respects the willingness of the donors who want to get refunds, and will evaluate the feasibility of the project and actively rectify it.

As of Jan 19, the sanitary kit project had raised about 48,668 yuan on Alipay and more than 20,000 yuan on Tencent.

“Perineal wash products are not recommended for use, instead we encourage girls to rinse with clean water,” Zhang Ruwei, secretary general of the China Social Welfare Foundation Ai Xiaoya Fund, told China Philanthropy Times.

Zhang said that the price paid for the sanitary pads sounds reasonable, but a bottle of solution at 70 yuan sounds expensive, and more comparative research should have been done before making a decision on project procurement.