In Support of Girls – Interview with Sri from Pennies 4 Pads

Pennies 4 Pads - Interview

Q: Tell us about Pennies4Pads; who it helps; and how.


Pennies 4 Pads is a Texas registered nonprofit which focuses on providing feminine hygiene products to poor school children in rural India.  


These girls hail from poor families and attend school against all odds.

They have no access to proper sanitary pads and use materials like rags or newspapers during their monthly cycle.

This leads to infection, making them skip classes a few days every month,  eventually making them drop out of school.

Once out of school, they get married and become childbearing machines. 

The problem is more acute than many communities would acknowledge since the subject is taboo and it is not a ’sophisticated’ subject like Nutrition or Education.

No one wants to acknowledge the damage it is causing. The elite do not want to deal with it as it is not for the cocktail circuit. 

Studies estimate over 10 million girls drop out of school every year due to menstrual-related health issues in India alone. Such a waste of potential!! 

Pennies 4 Pads addresses this issue in a simple but effective way, by giving FREE sanitary pads to these girls, delivered to their classroom each month and every month.

By giving constant access to superior-quality sanitary pads, we give comfort and dignity to students.

Our volunteers visit schools first week of every month, hand over pads, and train them in good menstrual practices like disposal or mood swing management or infection control.  

Pennies 4 Pads presently takes care of 3,500 girls every month in 7 schools from 5 States of India.

About 1,000 of them are blind / deaf / autistic / physically challenged.

All the 5 Program Managers hold PhD degrees and are well experienced in issues relating to women, children, education, and health. 

We have also adopted a school for blind girls and another school for deaf/mute children.  

The results are amazing.

Parents and teachers are surprised to see the girls’ improved health and their better participation in school activities.

Absenteeism due to menstrual health issues has reached zero levels in all the schools we serve.  

Children would not skip school anymore during their ‘days’ – a major victory for  Pennies 4 Pads.

The first set of girls graduated from High School last April, a feat which could not have happened without Pennies 4 Pads, and we are proud of it.  

Studies say, if the girls complete one extra grade, it will give them 4% more income all  through their life.)

  • Our VISION is to ‘Period Protect’ 25,000 girls by 2025.
  • We also want the younger generation of India emulating our work in other parts of the country, which has already started to happen.
  • Consider the indirect impact of these girls NOT getting married off at 16 but continuing their education. That will have an enormous impact on population growth as well as exploiting their full potential.

Q: Why did you start this charity? Please tell us a little about yourself.


Hailing from rural India, the subject of menstruation had always fascinated me as boys were not provided enough information associated with it.

Growing up, I have seen this taboo working overtime. I have seen many of my classmates drop out of school once they attain puberty.

A ‘hush hush ‘subject, men were never allowed in this area which affects scores of women and contains their success.

Seeing my sisters stay inside a dingy room for 5 days every month (like caged animals, a  widespread practice those days as menstruating women were considered impure and not allowed inside the main part of home). It bothered me a lot. 

Once I saw a wheelchair-bound girl crying and when I checked with her, found that she had no pads and was miserable. Her words: ‘Brother, either kill me or get me pads” broke my heart and I decided to do something about this issue at once.

Covid taught me that life is very temporary as I lost a bunch of friends. 

I decided to embark on my journey with Pennies 4 Pads.

Starting with 200 girls with disabilities in 2021, today I take care of about 4,000 girls every month, mostly with my personal funds. I dip into my 401 K often as most doors close when they see the impact is in a faraway land and corporates would not even give an opportunity to tell my story. 

I am a blue-collar immigrant to the USA who worked hard to make physicians out of my two daughters.

I am ever thankful to this humane country for showing me the opportunities.

Thankful to have a supportive wife (which wife would allow someone to take out his 401 K savings for buying sanitary pads for girls 10,000 miles away?). 

Overall, I’m not rich but very blessed! But now is the time to give back to the community I have taken so much from all these years!

Q. Can we hear in the girls’ own words what they like about this charity?


Sure. I do have a couple of noticeably short videos, the girls thanking Pennies 4  Pads (in their language, of course, including sign language from the deaf children). 

We can also face time during one of the pad distribution events (which we have in the first week of every month), but time difference would be tough. We are 11 hours behind. 

Q. A harder question: Why is access so hard for period protection? What are the causes? They cannot be purchased in stores. What’s being done locally to change this situation?


Simple answer: Poverty.

Unlike Western countries, a proper sanitary pad is a luxury item in the third world and families just do not have that extra money to buy them.

Traditionally they use old cloth pieces and rags and in extreme conditions even newspaper.  

Pads are selectively available in stores but are not very affordable.

The government tries to give free supplies to schools, but the task is immense.

India has 450 million school-going girls.

(That is more than the population of USA and  Canada put together, to give a perspective.) 

When the choice is between food and pads, food wins! 

Many charities try to give pads but the basic mistake they make is distributing pads once or twice and then stopping or moving away from that population.

This is like feeding a hungry person a few times and leaving him later.

What is critical is consistent pad supply to the SAME GROUP for a longer period, so that it starts showing an impact in their health and education.  

Pennies 4 Pads has perfected this process and operates accordingly.

If we cannot financially sustain a school for 3 years, we would not adopt it for pad distribution.

The results prove that our methodology is right. 

5000 th child – Fully supported by Pennies 4 Pads in understanding what a period is.

Q. What do you wish for in the future for these girls and for the future of period protection?


Addressing the issue of Period Protection has far-reaching consequences that most folks foresee.

As I always say, “These girls are ‘less fortunate’ but ‘not lesser to anyone.’

They are smart, hardworking, and just lack opportunities.

Dropping out of school eliminates them from reaching their potential.

Imagine harnessing the full potential of an additional 20 million girls every year and the resulting impact on the global economy. 

Education is the key to alleviating poverty.

Instead of getting married at 17 and having 5 kids, imagine these girls limiting their family to 1 or 2 kids.

Mind boggling impact on world economy and environment.

The catch-22 of poverty and lack of education can easily be broken. 

Fixing this issue does not need enormous investment or work force, whereas the impact is considerable.

Just give them pads each time, every time.

Not rocket science and ROI is fantastic.

Pennies4Pads is happy to give them a push in life! 

My immediate goal is to create a corpus fund of $75,000 which would take care of 20,000 girls for 4 years.

Once these girls are protected for their whole high school years, they can join the mainstream population and offer their full potential. 

My vision is to spread this crusade to other third-world countries also where girls combat the same issue.

Rather than working everywhere, I wish to be a catalyst and ignite the spark inside other Sri Subramaniams to continue this crusade. 

It just needs a few years of sustained work and making them stay in school.

Afterwards the momentum from education would take over.

India is a growing nation, and the impact of social reforms are now fruiting.

I am sure the future is very bright, but we need to hasten the change and make it happen sooner.


1. None of the Program Managers, including myself draw salary or benefits from Pennies 4 Pads, though laws allow it. Shows the commitment of my team.  

2 . I work from my home which is the registered office for Pennies 4 Pads. I do not charge rent or other maintenance expenses. 

3. We have a psychologist volunteer who trains my team in the psychological aspects of menstruation. My team in turn trains parents / teachers / students. It is critical to train parents especially who have physically / mentally challenged girls. Makes a dramatic difference for them. 

We conduct special classes for BOYS to educate them about female biology, first time in India. 

4. We have signed MOUs with two immensely popular non-governmental organizations in India, which gives opportunity to collaborate with reputed institutions. 

5. Our accounts are audited by CPAs s and all legalities are up-to-date.  

6. Pennies 4 Pads also has installed pad vending machines and incinerators to dispose of pads in four schools.  

7. Any donor will get a photo of the group of girls their donation helped. We ensure the girls make a placard with their name and hold it. A donor can clearly see where their money went.  We are doing it from day one. Sample attached. 

7. Finally, it costs $17 to fully protect a girl for a year. 

For more information or to support Pennies 4 Pads, please follow these links: