Have you ever wondered how homeless women deal with urinary tract infections (UTIs)?
Pictured above, the team at Eve's Secret
We have. And we partnered with nonprofit Eve's Secret to put prevention in the hands of women who need it most.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection in the United States. UTIs are caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and are generally caused by things that increase the risk of bacteria moving and entering the urinary tract, like sex, exercise, etc.
While some women are naturally more likely to get UTIs because of their anatomical makeup and other factors, there are a few keystones to UTI prevention: staying hydrated, using the bathroom frequently to fully flush bacteria out of your urinary tract and maintaining good hygiene, all of which can be particularly difficult for homeless women.
We’ve partnered with Eve's Secret, a budding non-profit started by student Tiara Averhart at University of Bridgeport campus in Connecticut, to put Uqora into the hands of women who need help preventing UTIs. We interviewed Tiara to learn more.
Uqora: Tell us about Eve’s Secret.
Tiara: Eve’s Secret is a budding non-profit organization I created to supply and educate the homeless population in New York by means of education and donation. I want my org to be able to change how we see homelessness and how homeless people see themselves. I want to give homeless people a chance to start over, help them find resources, jobs, homes, everything they need to be happy, healthy and safe.
Uqora: How did you get the idea?
Tiara: Eve’s secret started as my Girl Scout Gold Award, I’ve earned my bronze award for reading to children and teaching them about writing books, my silver award was awarded to me for assisting in hurricane Sandy relief and my gold is for this project. When I first started the project I wanted to remove the stigma of periods in our society; yes ambitious I know. But as I continued on my journey to petition against the tampon tax I realized that it didn’t feel like I was doing enough. So I decided to make period care packages for people to purchase, similarly to monthly beauty packages that were so popular.
One day in the New York subway on my way home from school a homeless woman passed me with a period stain my the seat of her pants. My heart broke as I watched her walk by and people laughing at her. I had a “period pack” in my bag as I was explaining my project to staff in my school. The woman got off the train and I followed her off to ask if I could give it to her. I was nowhere near home yet but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least ask if she would let me give it to her. She accepted the box and was so surprised to open it to find pads and tampons. She told me that no one had ever given her pads before.
From that moment I knew what I could do to do more and I knew that I had to continue this project after I received my Gold Award. I received my Gold Award spring of 2016.
Uqora: What has been your favorite project?
Tiara: I haven’t had a favorite project yet but my favorite thing to do within my organization is to plan the next thing. I have so many ideas and with the time, resources, and money. I feel I could make such a difference.
Uqora: When did you first realize UTIs were a problem for homeless women?
Tiara: I first learned about the UTI problem among homeless women from another non-profit actually. Invisible People is a nonprofit organization started by a man who was actually homeless. Now he films mini-documentaries about homeless people around the United States, their experiences and such. The first video I saw of his was about a woman who became homeless due to legal issues and she was talking about how hard it was specifically being a homeless woman. She explained having to be extremely cautious from sexual harassment to just finding a place to use the bathroom and it reminded me of my first interaction with a homeless woman and my knowledge of UTIs. If a homeless woman has to hold her urine or if she can’t change her sanitary napkins as often and such then that would make them so much more susceptible to UTIs. About a day after I saw an ad for Uqora.
Uqora: How do you think we should address the issue of homelessness as a society?
Tiara: I believe to truly be able to help homeless people as a society we have to have a little more empathy and education on what homelessness is. As of now, most people are privileged to not be homeless but situations can so easily happen that can change that.
Not all homeless people are homeless because they were drug addicts or alcoholics but this idea is perpetuated so much that it makes ALL homeless people seem like homelessness was their choice. Homeless just means you don’t have a home to call your own. About 500,000 people are homeless in America there is no way they all have the same stories. I don’t expect people to invite homeless strangers into their homes to take a shower and for a meal but a bottle of cold water in the summer offered with a smile could brighten someone's day and more importantly help keep them healthier than before.
As for uplifting homeless people, I think education, access to places that will help with mental health, and general life help would go so far. Not all programs available now will help all people and not all programs CAN help all people. A lot of programs have space limits and monetary budgets but if we could help homeless people empower themselves I believe more people would be able to build themselves up and be confident. Throwing money at a person doesn’t do much, especially if they don’t know what to do with it. This is my ideal second phase of my organization, I have so many ideas on how to change the way we handle these problems.
Uqora: Thank you for your incredible work at Eve's Secret, Tiara, and thank you for letting us be a part of it!