Ibrahim Hero Faleye is the furthest thing from a one-trick pony. This week, we interviewed him to find out about his various ventures including running an NGO called Pad Bank Nigeria, his accomplishments in photography and as a tour guide/operator. His important work in advocacy for adequate menstrual management and amazing photography skills make this multifaceted student one to watch.
You have done a lot of work in the NGO sector including volunteering with the UN and the Lagos Food Bank. You now run your own NGO called Pad Bank Nigeria. Can you tell us a bit about the work you do and why it is important to you?
My name is Ibrahim Hero Faleye, a professional photographer and the founder of Pad Bank Nigeria.
Pad Bank Nigeria is non-profit organisation focused on promoting menstrual health, hygiene and education, also we are sustainable approach to see that we end menstrual poverty.
Founded on April 6 2018, due to personal encounter and experience.
Growing up as a male child, around age 11, I usually run sanitary pads errands for my elder sister, so I believe it was a normal thing every girl could afford, only to see after some years that many girls can’t afford to practice hygienic menstrual lifestyle. So I did some researches, this helped me see that this is a major challenge as some girls use rags, nylon, papers, banana leaves and so on to menstruate.
I then took it upon myself to do something to solve this problem.
Menstrual health for girls is an important issue that can often be overlooked. What do people need to know about menstrual health management?
I agree with you, many neglect menstrual health which is very painful. I have this saying “Food is important, that’s if you are healthy enough to eat it”
I believe every individual (Boy/Girl) should have basic knowledge of female reproductive system. Part of our project this year is the menstrual education club is secondary and some slums and also the catch them young initiative.
This projects are projects that would teach and educate girls and parents about everything on menstrual health management and the catch them young initiative to teach especially boys how to take care and treat ladies while on period.
For me I believe basic menstrual health education and management awareness should be created.
How can others get involved in eradicating menstrual poverty?
One simple way is from your home and environment. Talking about Menstrual health management with your siblings, and neighbors, buying pad for a girl down the street, beside the house and all is a great way, with this you would even get to know those suffering from menstrual related health issues like amenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and so on.
Another way is to support organisations, groups and initiatives working around menstrual health and hygiene to achieve their organisational goals.
Another way is to create awareness on menstrual poverty and influence change even with the social media.
At Pad Bank Nigeria, part of the plan is to make petitions to the official representing us at the government levels on why they should focus menstrual health and hygiene management and also to eradicate menstrual poverty.
Basically it begins with you, how you care for yourself and your neighbors.
You are someone who wear many hats. Alongside your NGO, you are an accomplished photographer. What makes the perfect photo?
For me the perfect photo comes from the story behind the photo, which would later become a memory that the photographer manages.
It’s the story.
You run an NGO and do photography. You also do grassroots mobilisation and are a tour guide/operator. What can you advise those who may feel boxed into one pursuit?
Trust me it’s not easy doing all these at once and also being a student.
I am someone who preaches do whatever makes you happy.
If you’re doing great with a particular thing, think innovatively and make more out of it. You can transform the happiness to wealth as long as you are good with it.
And for those who has more than one box, always find a balance to everything you do. It’s important to make a Niche, that’s what you are going to be known for, while you run the others.
For me everyone knows me more as a photographer asides the humanitarian work I do, so I make sure I do well with the Photography business while I push other stuff…
Menstruation is usually a sensitive topic, especially to young girls..How do you handle such a topic as a male and at the same time get the girls to feel comfortable to talk about it?
This is the hardest part of my work asides seeking funds.
Let me tell you a story about how I kick started Pad Bank Nigeria.
After the whole research and courses I took on menstrual health and hygiene, it took me a while to get started.
On this faithful day in the month of march 2018, I was at a friend’s mum shop, I helped her stayed at the shop while she went to get something.
A teenage girl came to the shop, she stood for over 10 mins staring at me, also hoping my friend’s mum would come in to the shop, I was forced to approach her, it took about another 5 minutes before she talked that she wanted to buy angel.
I already knew what angel was, so I laughed and asked her which of the packs she wanted to get, she wanted the economy value pack that has 2 in it, instead I gave her a whole pack of 8.
She then told me to help her wrap it very well, because she doesn’t want people to see it.
So I had to talk to her that menstruation or period is not a disease, a healthy girl must menstruate at time of menstruation, I had to build confidence in her and talked to her as if I menstruate too. The next month was my birthday, so I used that opportunity to raise funds and boom that’s how Pad Bank Nigeria started.
As a guy I try as much as possible to confide in them and put myself in their shoes which sometimes doesn’t work.
One thing I do, is that i go with my female friends and volunteers.
So this works many time.
Also one thing I’ve discovered is that most of the male Pad Bank Nigeria volunteers are more passionate about the cause than the female
How do you source for funds?
This has really been taskful. For the fact that we are not registered yet with CAC yet made it more tough. My major donors are my contacts, families and friends and social media. The works we have done sometimes make people trust us and donate. Also I am an active volunteer with Lagos Food Bank Initiative, LFBI has been so supportive, they donated over 2000 unit of sanitary pads to us. We are working on getting registered so we can seek corporate funding
In most African countries, parents hardly sit down and talk to their daughters about menstruation plus it’s almost like a taboo for father’s to get involved. Do you think educating the parents about menstruation and hygiene and how to teach their children at a young age would make a difference and make girls feel free to talk about it and not feel frightened and ashamed about menstruating?
Like I said earlier, menstrual health and hygiene education begins from the home.
I strongly believe that educating parents (Father/Mother) about Menstruation would make a huge difference. It can actually solve the problems on menstrual poverty.
Everyone would have basic vital information and be informed on what a girl needs to perform or live a healthy menstrual lifestyle.
Another way is to also educate religious and community leaders as they listen to them more.
I strongly agree that educating parents, community and religious leaders on menstruation would do a lot to ending menstrual poverty.
If you would like to find out more about the work that Ibrahim does, you can find him on Twitter/Instagram @padbanknigeria, Facebook @Pad Bank Nigeria and
LinkedIn in padbanknigeria.