Oliver Godliving Lukuba: Making Period Care Accessible in Schools Everywhere
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here, back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Oliver Godliving Lukuba, the founder of HEIMO Female. Let’s learn what’s happening at HEIMO Female and how Oliver is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Oliver! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your startup?
Oliver: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! I’m addressing the challenge of a lack of sanitary products for girls and the presence of period stigma in schools. I attended a school where a menstruating girl would have to go back home and stay there until her menses were done due to fear of frequently facing the chronic issues of period stigma and poverty. I’m solving it by making a pads vending machine and providing it to schools to enable girls who are victims of period poverty to access pads at a very affordable price. I also conducted seminars to ensure that we educate boys and everyone else on period stigma and period stereotypes.
Spiffy: That is a wonderful undertaking! Tell us more about what motivated you to tackle this challenge.
Oliver: Well, a friend of mine once had her period at school and no one could help. In the end, we wound up being late and her skirt was soiled due to heavy flow. This was so unfortunate, because the boys laughed and made fun of her; they were all consumed by period stigma and mocked her instead of helping her. My friend had to go home, and she was terribly embarrassed to return to school even after her period was over. This led to her skipping classes, which in the end contributed to her failing and dropping in her grades; she almost dropped out of school because she was traumatized. But, ultimately, she was able to get her life back in line, and I helped in the process. I decided I couldn’t allow myself to witness this happen again. That is when I decided to act.
Spiffy: Thank you for sharing that moving story. How would you say you or your organization are working towards a more equitable world?
Oliver: The organization enables school girls first to build confidence in themselves by always having period products available to them so they won’t have to worry about being embarrassed and skipping school. Secondly, it builds a bridge between girls and boys around the issue of period talks. It challenges false stereotypes about periods and advocates against any and all period stigma. It builds a community where men and women are on equal footing. For example, the seminars we hold for advocating against period stigma create a more equal community and hence promotes equality around the world automatically.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community or audience?
Oliver: Our recent milestone involves trying to partner up with different pads companies to make sure we have a variety of options in our Pads vending machines. This will impact the community because girls will have multiple pads brands to choose from according to their personal comfort, experience, and preference.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Oliver: I remember we had trouble managing school alongside the project. My colleagues (Maleo and Eshe) and I were all students at the time. It was hard to focus and, personally, my grades started to drop. It was difficult. There were teachers and friends telling me to give up, pointing out that it’s a nonprofit initiative and that I needed to stop and focus on my studies. However, I was so angry about the status quo that I couldn’t just stop, so I spoke with my parents, sister, mentor, and teachers. I was close to them and trusted their guidance. They all helped me come up with a plan where I could devote time to both and have accountability with managing my time. In the end, I didn’t give up, and I succeeded.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Oliver: Every day, I learn something from people around me. I remember the first time I arrived at a very diverse school. I realized that the problems faced in my country weren’t only common there. There are places around the world facing the same problem. This made me rethink my vision and plan to expand my project all around the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Oliver—it’s been an honor!
Oliver Godliving Lukuba was born to empower and inspire: she is not too young to make a change in her community. She believes we shouldn’t underestimate the power we have to change the world. The dreams and vision we have for a better future don’t only mean something to us, they mean a lot to everyone. Oliver is the founder of HEIMO Female. (Nominated by Rise of Schmidt Futures. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 9, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.