The Helping Hands project is designed to show fellow students the unique pressures facing vulnerable populations in the Montreal area. Helping Hands is partnered with the Chronic Viral Illness Clinic (Glen Hospital). We organize educational events, where students can learn about the obstacles facing vulnerable populations directly from clinic staff. We also provide women from vulnerable populations with basic necessities in the form of a feminine hygiene kit.
The clinic follows over 2000 HIV-positive patients, many of whom are asylum seekers (refugees) with difficult circumstances. We give our kits to women who are newly landed migrants; homeless and marginally housed; and who live with HIV or other viral illnesses. In a reusable bag, our kit contains sanitary napkins, tampons, wet wipes, panty liners, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand cream, shampoo, deodorant, and condoms.
Our kits are intended to prevent illnesses such as toxic shock syndrome while promoting safe sexual practices and reducing socioeconomic disparities. Each kit is designed to last the recipient for one full month. Physicians and social workers confidentially explain how to use each kit item. Social workers and medical students collect feedback, to improve our kits and assess the impact that our kits are having in recipients’ lives.