Pe Stop-or how a Romanian NGO is fighting period poverty

December... the month of the magical holidays and the end of a crazy year. We are dedicating this month to women who impacted the world, empowered us and other women to follow our dreams, and fight for them.

Today we are presenting you Irina Vasilescu, the founder of Pe Stop, an NGO in Romania that provides menstrual products to women in need. Period poverty still hits strong in many parts of the world. We admire and support organizations that took it upon them to fight against period poverty.

We had the pleasure to interview Irina and get insights about how an altruistic initiative can help so many women in need.

*Scroll down for the Romanian version

Tell me about yourself, who is Irina behind the Pe Stop?

I did a Bachelor’s and Master's degree in Psychology at the University of Bucharest. Coincidentally, my first job was with an NGO, which was followed by other jobs in NGOs and over time it became very clear to me that this was what I was meant to do with my life. I worked in 3 NGOs before I started with Pe Stop. I founded Pe Stop while I was working full time at the Seneca Association. At that time, I received a scholarship to go to the US, where I first handedly learnt how NGOs work and I thought: ok, if their department in the States trusts me, maybe I should trust myself too. So I resigned from Seneca and started working on Pe Stop full time. I lived on savings for 4 months, after which we managed to get Pe Stop on its feet and we received some funds. This allowed us to pay salaries and carry out our activity.

Furthermore, 2 years ago I started to be interested in psychotherapy and now I am training to become a psychotherapist.

How did you come up with the idea to create Pe Stop?

I saw a report about an American girl doing this in her small town. Monthly, she met with her friends and made packages of menstrual products for homeless women.

Then I wondered if anyone does this in Romania. When I found out that no one was doing it I decided to take initiative. I did a market study to find out how many menstrual products a person uses in a month and then I created some packages. I went to the central train station of Bucharest with these packages, where I knew there were several homeless people and I shared them. A few weeks later, Alexandra appeared and we started working together to create what is currently Pe Stop.

We want all people, in need of menstrual care products and accurate information on how to take care of themselves during menstruation, to have access to these things.

Who is part of the Pe Stop team?

The team consists only of volunteers, except for me. I am the only person employed, but in spring we will receive Norwegian funds. This allows us to employ 2 more people. We currently have 26 volunteers who help with everything: from packaging, acquisition, distribution, field trips for fundraising campaigns. They are the ones that make this NGO possible. Without volunteers, we couldn't have achieved so many things.