Ileri Jaiyeoba is a Global Teen Leader and a first-year student at NYU. She also knows a thing or two about painful periods.
It’s that time of month. Nothing is right, you’re bleeding for no good reason, your boyfriend doesn’t know which kind of milk chocolate to get, sometimes you’re even howling in pain. You can’t fathom the thought of leaving your warm bed, imagine thinking about homeless women. Yes, did you realize they get their periods too? Do you think they’re using their precious resources to buy feminine products rather than something to eat? Ileri Jaiyeoba put two and two together while she was volunteering at homeless shelters.
“I want women to not feel burdened by their periods because they do not have access to their basic needs. I want women to feel like they can give their 100% all day, every day.” This is the philosophy behind Code Red, the organization she formed to make a difference. They provide menstrual products in packages for women in need at shelters and refugee centers, while promoting awareness surrounding menstrual hygiene as well as global dangers that affect women at large. “The packages we give out not only raise consciousness about homelessness, but also include information about human trafficking dangers,” she explains.
Our greatest hope is that learning more about her story will inspire you to make a change, no matter how small. It is simply the individuals that notice and care enough about our world that create significant waves. Just picture the impact of people everywhere doing their bit to make others’ lives better. After all, like the poet and peacemaker Mattie J.T. Stepanek said: “Peace is possible, when your basic human needs are met.”
1. What is your background?
Growing up I had really bad menstrual pains that brought me to the emergency room every once in a while. The pain was harsh and chronic and after visiting many doctors I soon found that I had endometriosis at age 15. While I realized all of this, I was also volunteering at women’s homeless shelters in my hometown of Atlanta, GA very frequently. I discovered that many women were in need of menstrual products that many shelters didn’t give out. I figured that even despite my struggles with my period cramps, I still had the resources to take care of myself but these women didn’t. So I put the dots together and decided to do something about the issue. Code Red came about after I did my first drive at a battered women shelter and received a grant to continue my work.
2. Can you tell us a bit more about Code Red?
Code Red promotes the empowerment of young girls and women while addressing the issue of sanitation. We exist to provide menstrual hygiene products in packages for women in need at shelters and refugee centers, while promoting awareness surrounding menstrual hygiene as well as global dangers that affect women at large. The packages we give out not only raise consciousness about homelessness, but also include information about human trafficking dangers.
3. How can our readers help?
Anyone can help by starting a chapter, spreading awareness or donating to our cause! We are also currently working on a nationwide drive, and recruiting a new advisory board, if anyone is interested in a position they can email us at email@example.com. Individuals can also give a care package to 3 women in need by donating $5 at coderedco.org.
4. What are you doing besides for running Code Red?
I am currently a freshman undergraduate at New York University studying international relations in the liberal arts program. Besides that, I am working as an intern for an awesome startup company called Mogul, which I really enjoy!
5. What is one key tip for success?
My advice for success is to be visionary because, even as cheesy as it may sound, “if you can see it, you can achieve it.” Keep thinking about your dreams and picture yourself doing what you set out to do. Being a visionary encourages one to take action for the things they want in life. It certainly encouraged me to start Code Red!
6. Where do you hope your career will take you?
Success to me is making someone else’s life easier than it was previously. Although I am not certain what I want to do career-wise yet, I am certain that I want to spend my life helping people reach their full potential and thrive. Knowing what I want to do with my life is the reason I keep pursuing a greater impact with Code Red. I want women to not feel burdened by their periods because they do not have access to their basic needs. I want women to feel like they can give their 100% all day every day.
7. What has been your proudest moment?
I find my proudest moments when I look back at all the progress I’ve made along with the Code Red team on the organization. It’s exciting to see all that we have accomplished and all that we hope to accomplish, which makes me feel unstoppable and incredibly proud. I also feel really proud when shelters write me thank you letters about how much Code Red has impacted so many women’s lives. I just really like knowing that I am fulfilling my purpose of making someone breathe a little easier.
Some facts about Ileri:
- Her favorite accessory is “dangly earrings because I love the way they show off my neck and collar bones. They add the perfect touch to anything even turtle necks, which I love!”
- Her dream job? “I have always wanted to work in the law and government related field, my dream jobs have ranged from being a diplomat to a human rights lawyer but I think being a Supreme Court justice is the coolest job in the world!”
- She feels happiest when listening to a good song. “Music always puts me in the right mood!”
- Her favorite ethical designer is Prinkshop. It is a business that sells t-shirts and directs funds to a variety of causes.
- One thing she wishes she made more time for is sports. “I love running and did track, field and soccer in high school. I miss soccer so much and need to quickly find a team to play with as soon as I have time in my schedule! I find the game exhilarating and enjoyable.”
- Some cures which help for menstrual cramps? “I have really bad menstrual cramps, but besides medication, I try to exercise before I start my period and when I start having cramps I use a hot water bottle and a drink herbal tea with ginger inside. I also try to eat more dark greens around that time for more calcium; I feel it eases the pain for me.”
Follow Ileri on Instagram @ileri_jaiy14 & @coderedco:
Cover photo shot by Molly Meisels for The Glam Salad ©