Amazing me education is run by an incredible woman called Rowena Thomas. She runs educational classes for kids and parents in NSW to discuss all things puberty, sex and anything in between! She also has created a wonderful charity http://projecthelpindia.co/ she donates her time and own money to those a lot less fortunate in India, providing them with essential healthcare, healthy meals and sanitary products where there is often stigma and shame around it. These women often have no sanitary products to use at all. She is an amazing woman on a mission to help those in need.
Here I have asked her a bunch of questions about how she came into this very much needed and very interesting choice of careers and how the charity came about!
How did you get into your line of work and begin your business?
As a primary school teacher, I noticed that there was no education around sexual health topics and I wanted my children to have that knowledge because I sure didn’t
Who or what inspired you to do it?
The students and parents that I talk to each day inspire me. I tell the students that I teach about my first period when I was in Year 4. I was 9 years old, scared, confused, lonely and felt I ashamed about my changing body. If I had known about puberty and what to expect before I got my period, it would have made it a whole lot less confusing. Even though earlier than most, I did not have to feel ashamed. Thinking about this makes me sad and angry, even though I know that they did the best that they could. My parents also did not have any conversations with me about puberty let alone sex! Thank goodness times are different now. It’s more important than ever because of the internet and in our oversexualised society that as adults we must be pro-active and empower our kids by educating them from an early age about all sexual health topics.
How long have you been doing “Amazing Me”
30 years!! Wow !! that makes me feel old. Over my career of I have had many jobs and ‘Amazing Me’ started out as a bit of a hobby. Now I work full-time delivering programs to schools. These are mostly day programs for students in classrooms and presenting evening programs for children and their parents together. I also deliver professional learning seminars to teachers as well.
How many kids do you see a week or month?
This depends on the time of year, currently I am really busy and work every day plus 4 evenings a week. I speak to 1000s of children, and their parents/carers each month.
What is the most common question you get asked by the children?
My most favourite part of each of my day is the anonymous question box. I get so many of them. Kids are curious and they want to know all sorts of things. Giving them the factual correct answers is important so they don’t get misinformation.
That is hard to answer because children ask me so many questions. In terms of periods, I would say there are two. How do I know that my periods are on their way? and ‘what if I get my periods at school and I don’t have any period products?
What is the most surprising question you have been asked?
Nothing really surprises me anymore. Mostly children’s questions come from a place of innocence and curiosity.
I just have to be respectful of everyone, because sex, puberty, pornography, periods, body safety are tough topics to talk about and the children are young. Families have different values and beliefs and so I need to be mindful of that but accurate and factual at the same time.
What inspired you to start your charity in India?
My family has always been advocates for people who live in poverty. We met a family in Northern India when we travelled there about a decade ago. They needed financial support and we were in a position to help. It’s been an incredible journey and we have grown so much. The people in India have blessed us far more than what we do for them.
How long have you has your charity, Project Help India been going for?
1o years ago we travelled to India and met the people that we support and work with and it started then.
Please check out our link here
How do you currently fund it and what is your main purpose for it?
We are tax deductable and currently funded by my husband and I, our friends and family. We also have some businesses that support us annually as part of their corporate responsibility. We also do fundraisers here and there, but we would love your support.
The mission of ‘Project Help India’ is to bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to the poor. Our vision is to focus on education, nutrition, health and ultimately human rights. ‘Project Help India’ provides practical help and hope to people living in poverty in Northern India. These people live in city slums or in jungle villages, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The projects are predominantly centred around providing a basic education to children who otherwise would not attend school, and extends to other children and teenagers who have significant disabilities. Funds are used to provide education in 8 locations including a Disability Centre in Kotdwara. All children receive a healthy meal each and every day. ‘Project Help’ only employs local teachers and staff from within the local community.
What do you love the most about running or assisting with this charity?
It gives us joy. These people are humans that are suffering in many ways including a lack of education.
Helping and supporting the teachers and leaders over there is incredible. They are our friends and family now.
They have blessed us far more than what we do for them.
How can we (readers etc) all help with the charity?
I am currently running a campaign at the moment to help with Period Poverty in Northern India
Period Poverty refers to when menstrual products cannot be accessed due to financial constraints. This can cause social, economic, physiological hardship, discrimination and shame, stigma and taboo. It also means that children and young girls may leave school and therefore it can affect their future and that of their families. Period Poverty is happening all over the world and not just in very poor communities. Project Help is a registered Indian NGO and donations are tax deductible in Australia. Many women are from the slums and earn less than $2 AUD a day. Next year at our SHINE Conference I am hoping to sponsor 700 woman for the next 5 years.
Do you have any children yourself?
I have 3 adult amazing children. A 27 year old daughter who is married and lives in Uganda, a 24 year old daughter who is married and lives in Canada and my 23 year old son who lives in Sydney.
Thanks Rowena! Please help anyway we all can with this amazing charity!