When thinking about the homeless, people do not usually associate it with women. And when it comes to the stack of worries that beset them; the pressing necessity for money, food and shelter are the preeminent things that we think about. But one of the most crucial questions every down and out woman encounters is commonly overlooked: If you had to choose between a meal and essential sanitary products during that time of the month, what would you do?

Yes, I am referring to that thing each woman has to go through, yet not often talked about: our period. In fact, we often call it by its code names like Aunt Flo, shark week and code red.

Period issues seem to be less of a problem when compared to more significant ones like domestic violence; one study shows 36 per cent of homeless women reported receiving assistance with domestic violence in 2014-2015. However, having menstruation is one that all women who are sleeping rough distresses over each month.

There are different ways homeless women deal with their periods. But even in an open country like Australia, menstruation is still a taboo topic to discuss about openly, which can lead to possibilities of major health risks.

Recently I spoke to Donna Stolzenberg, who is the founder of the Melbourne Period Project. This organisation hands out sanitary products to the homeless community for free.

At 11am on a Tuesday morning, I visited their warehouse at Port Melbourne that was newly leased by the organisation. Huge boxes and bags of sanitary products - some I had not seen before - that cluttered a large corner of the office greeted me.

“Wow, you have more than enough items in this warehouse to last you for at least a year!” I exclaimed. “Oh, this is actually not much, considering that at least 77,000 individual items go out in a month. I get that a lot though. Come on in!” Donna replied casually.

She showed me around the cosy space, explaining her future plans for re-constructing each area. She visualises a welcoming place for women on the streets to seek shelter at. After the quick tour, Donna excused herself to dive back into the long list of admin work that she was in the middle of.

At that moment, the only noises in the office were the latest songs that played from her desktop, and the sound of her furious typing on the keyboard. This went on for a while.

In the process of clearing her emails, I caught her scrunching her eyebrows a few times. Halfway through, she unconsciously heaved a huge sigh.

Once she was done, she let’s out an “ok…”, relived that she had finally finished that part of her work. She moved over to join me in the lounge area, and just like the casual black outfit she was wearing, Donna laid back relaxed on the couch with a beaming smile that signalled the start of our conversation.

Even though she gives off a fiery and strong vibe, Donna couldn’t hide her vulnerable side as she opened up her stories and the troubles the homeless have to face.

“It all started from the Melbourne Homeless Support Group on Facebook that my eldest son set up,” told Donna, as she reminisced about what happened two years ago.

“When we were still living in Perth, he joined the Perth Homeless Support Group. But after moving to Melbourne, he realised that there was no equivalent here, so he created the group. However, he didn’t live in Melbourne anymore, so he made me the admin. People started to join, and everything snowballed,” she said.

Donna’s youngest son is the catalyst for what she does. Eight years ago, he was born with autism. She started to think about what life was like when she wasn’t around and there wasn’t anyone around to look after her son. Because of this disability, he was at a higher risk of becoming homeless.

In order to know more, Donna started searching up on homeless people, and what she found was awful.

“People tend to have this made up idea about homelessness. Rather than asking questions, they tend to tell you things. It’s frustrating not to yell at them,” she laughed.

She thought that if she was going to try to save one person, which is her son, why not try to save as many as she could?

The Melbourne Period Project was founded as a result of her first charity organisation – Blanket Melbourne, where they give out free blankets to the homeless. Halfway through that, a friend realised that Donna was working with people that were homeless and she sent her a link to the Homeless Period project in London. She said that it’s something else that needs to be looked into.

Statistics from Homelessness Australia in 2011 indicate that 44% of the 105,237 homeless people in Australia are women. This translates to 45,813 women who are facing troubles dealing with their periods in a safe and hygienic way, but the true number is likely to be much higher.

Donna added that the Australian government is not giving enough funding to support the homeless, and that sanitary items are considered a luxury item.

According to the United Nations, the stigma around menstruation is a “violation of several human rights, most importantly of the right to human dignity.” So why do women still have to humiliate themselves with clothes that are soiled and stained in one of the world’s wealthiest countries?

She took a few weeks to think about what she wanted to do before stepping in to launch the Melbourne Period Project on Facebook in June 2015.

With more than 14,000 likes on their Facebook page, nobody would have thought that on the day of the launch, Donna was aiming to receive only 100 likes in 12 months. Much to her surprise, they had more than 1,000 likes in the first 24 hours.

“For the first 6 weeks, I almost didn’t sleep just getting through everything because I was still working full-time and running the Melbourne Homeless Support Group and Blanket Melbourne all at the same time. It grew so big that I eventually had to give up my salary and believed in what I was doing. If I knew how huge it would get, I would have planned a firmer foundation first!” she proudly added.

Period packs were volunteer-assembled and meant for individual use. They came in 5 varieties: Sunflower (super), Rose (regular), Poppy (pads-only), Tulip (tampons-only) and Hemlock for transgender men. There was also an additional mix of extra items in each pack.

She received so much help at one point that she had to start turning volunteers away. “There were too many of them trying to hand out packs all at the same time. It’s like 30 milkmen turning up at your doorstep to deliver 1 milk.”

Because she is running a registered charity, an important part of her work is to constantly stay within the legal framework. Donna explained: “We often have to reject cases. One example is the refugee agencies that often come to us. As much as we want to help, the way we are structured legally does not allow us to.”

Donna couldn’t remember the last time she had a day off. “I had a holiday in March and told my managers not to contact me, but in the end, they did. So I ended up laying in front of the pool in Bali still working,” she joked.

But even though she is fully immersed into her swarm of workload, she keeps her motivation up by constantly reminding herself about the good that it’s doing.

“When you own an organisation like this, you cannot have a break, and I accept that. But I built it in a way where I am aware of my limitations; therefore, I am still able to cope,” she said with enthusiasm.

Donna is thankful for the public for being so receptive. Seeing the comments and feedback coming from organisations and people, she realised the value of her work. “There are people who finally have one less thing to worry about, and if I take that away from them, it would be awful,” she commented, adding that life is so much better now compared to 12 months ago.

When asked about the sense of a tangible goal that she would like the project to reach within her lifetime, she reflected on her passion to increase the availability of the period packs so that everyone who needs them have access to it. She also has plans to increase awareness nationwide for both the public and homeless, because she firmly believes that she has a social responsibility to do so.

“Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up,” she said.

Find Melbourne Period Project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PeriodProjectMelbourne

So I downloaded the Tinder app last weekend.

Tinder is a hugely popular online dating mobile app that I used to dismiss due to its notorious reputation for hookups. However, after listening to several friend's successful relationship stories, I decided to give it a chance. I wanted to open myself up to the dating world, but am too much of an Otaku to meet anyone. It doesn't help that the boys at school were too young for me either. Besides, I am more comfortable with my self behind the screen.

It was fun for the first day; I laughed at many profiles and scored a couple of Super Likes (one of them was as old as my dad, lol). It did boost my low self-esteem for a while, but I had to remind myself not to get carried away.

I got more serious with my search on the second day.

Were my standards too high? Even after narrowing the filter results of men aged from 23-infinity to 25-31, I still found myself swiping left (a.k.a rejection) to the hundreds of profiles 99% of the time. While good looking and yummy-bodied guys were aplenty and a feast for the eyes, they were not exactly the type I was after. I secretly turn heart-shaped eyes emoji for the slightly geeky ones with dad bods. I know, none of my friends understand my taste in men either. But there was a problem - I could probably pick out more of these guys at the library than on Tinder.

Anyway, after the hours I'd spent swiping past all that men, I only had 2 matches. Sadly, they barely replied much. Was I boring? Did I scare them off for being too straightforward? Maybe I was just a side thing in case other matches don't work out for them? I don't know.

Soon enough, I found this whole thing redundant for continuation. There was nothing productive achieved - I could've used the time to finish my assignments or complete an online course instead.

After 3 days on Tinder, I came to a conclusion that I was probably meant to be #ForeverAlone and proceeded to delete my account.

I went back to living my life again as I tried to put my mind off the Swipe Left days. But little did I know that a nightmare was looming.

S* came across my profile just before I deleted it. Because I'd linked my Instagram account on Tinder, he managed to find me and sent a direct message to indicate his interest. I probably swiped left on him since I don't recall coming across his profile even after he introduced himself. The conversation started out well, and he was swift with his replies. However, I was rather cautious about this person because his Instagram account was set to private. In order to put a face to the messages, I asked for a screenshot of his profile several times. S repeatedly refused to, but he was rather insistent on pushing for us to meet!?

The conversation slowly started to snowball into a mess.

The weirdest thing S sent was an unappetising picture of an oily bowl of wontons. Twice. He told me that it was what we were going to eat "on our first date".

Now, I have no qualms with having inexpensive food, but come on people,

Excuse me, but where are his basic manners? You don't shove food in people's faces without asking about their dietary preferences first, do you? Furthermore, I never once agreed to meet with him.

I stopped replying to S for a while because not only does Instagram not alert me of notifications, I also had a full day of classes to attend. Ain't nobody got time to camp for his messages. But in all honesty, even though I may not be a seasoned dater, I have been in a relationship long enough to know what works for me and what doesn't. Topped with the cheesy pickup lines maybe other ladies would blush over, it was crystal clear that S and I do not communicate on the same level.

I thought S understood my hint, but to my horror, this guy obviously doesn't know how to accept rejections. When I finally opened Instagram, a series of rude comments he left on my posts welcomed me. One of the comments was along the lines of him accusing me to be sexting his mate on Tinder. "What is going on?" I panicked a little before laughing at what a desperate loser this guy must be. I quickly deleted the comments as my dad follows me on Instagram; if he ever came across any of them, I will probably be slaughtered for Char Siu.

I immediately confronted S about it after. There were neither any explanation nor signs of built up tension from friendly to a monster in our conversation. He basically started exploding for no reason, accusing me of linking my Instagram account to gain followers simply due to my slightly higher than average follower count (he was probably jealous because he had less than 50). It was worse than the extreme mood swings females have when they are on their periods.

I tried to reason with him - I admitted that I linked my Instagram profile as I came across countless of users, even my own friends, doing so. I saw it as a norm to validate that I was not a catfish; I am indeed real and serious about meeting people. S chose to dismiss whatever I said instead. What's worst was that the sneaky bastard left more comments on my posts while I was typing my replies. How childish is that!?

It came to a point where I gave up trying to convince him, but I kept my cool because I did not want to leave the impression that he had won from making me mad. I even wished him the best, but the Sour Bugger had no chill and never stopped his bashes. I was left without a choice but to block his account. As much as I would love to show y'all the conversation, silly me forgot to capture screenshots of our conversation beforehand, therefore all of our DM exchanges vanished like he did.

I am not going to lie - I do get slightly afraid when I step outside the house now. S knows what I look like, where I study at, and it is easy to figure my whereabouts through the postings on my social media accounts. I, on the other hand, have nearly zero information about him.

Despite having heard of similar stories for a million times, this episode once again affirms how scary the world of the Internet is. You don't know what lies on the other side of the screen. I am posting my story to serve as a reminder to everyone how easy it is for your privacy to be invaded, and how you should be doubly careful to protect yourselves. I was lucky to have escaped from the clutches of this psycho early on, but alas, luck will not always be on our side.

I was thinking about when I should bounce back from my unspoken break from social media, and it seemed like nothing was apter than now. Because earlier this week, I turned a year older (the above pictures were from a birthday-ish getaway trip last weekend to Mount Martha in Victoria, yay!)

Taylor Swift lied to me - not everything turned out alright despite the many attempts I danced and tried to shake it off as a 22-year-old. I went through my first and worst internship experience, moved to nearly the end of the earth by myself, attempted to be a student whilst juggling with adult duties, opened my eyes to the real struggles of the disadvantaged and NFP/NGOs, lost a loved one, drifted away from good friends, failed miserably to open up to new ones, ended my hush-hush relationship of 6 years, floundered about to accept that I might be suffering from mild depression, and etc.

But at the same time, I am thankful for the roller coaster year that tested my independence as an extremely sheltered and privileged person. It was the numerous firsts I'd experienced that are moulding me into the "better person" I am searching for. 

So here's to the various challenges that will dawn upon me, the numerous people who have and will walk into my life to teach me a thing or two, the more than extra love that the world needs, and going head on with countless of life's adventures.

Cheers to turning twenty-three!

After hearing much about how pricey a trip to the hair salon was in Melbourne, sadly, I had to ditch my rainbow-coloured tresses to opt for one that's more manageable in the long run. *wipes tears*

My last hair fix in Singapore was at The Scene Hair Salon. Conveniently nestled at Raffles City Shopping Centre, The Scene boasts a new team of highly qualified Korean hairstylists. The professionals have been trained and have gained reputable styling experiences in Korea! Jade was the hairstylist I got assigned to. We had a good laugh at his bush of permed hair - he explained that it was one of the latest trends in Korea. I thought he looked a little older like an Ahjussi, but you could tell through his burning, passionate eyes how much he loved the look! :')

Getting down to the details, we discussed the direction I was headed towards - a safe colour that'd last me for months, yet doesn't fail to surprise with its cheeky twist. Despite the slight communication barrier, Jade was meticulous and patient whilst listening to my requests.

Jade brushed on a brown colour with peek-a-boo grey tones underneath it. With repeated washes, the grey colour will change into the blonde colour from my previous hair bleach. It's been nearly a month now and the colour is slowly revealing itself! The contrast of blonde strips against my brown hair is prominent when I tie them up.

The condition of my hair was also put in focus. Due to the dry ends, my perm request was turned down because The Scene is a hair salon that strongly believes in creating quality for their customers. Instead, I was pampered with my first hair treatment and hair styling in months! Previously, my schedule was packed to the brim due to an internship that I barely had time to take care of myself. The session immediately sprung my hair back to life.

Can I step out of the hair salon everyday pleaseeeee? *.*

Good things should be shared, right? Here you go - from 1st of March, the first 30 customers who quote my name
will be entitled a 10% discount off your bill! Hooray!

The Scene Hair Salon
Address: 252 North Bridge Road #03-21A Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103
Tel: 6333 9613

If you're in Victoria, a tour to the Great Ocean Road should not be missed.

I had the privilege of escaping the city for a day with a small tour who accommodated to my last-minute adventurer instincts. The experience was an eye-opener - I would never have had the opportunity to relish in such eyegasm scenery, wildlife, and exotic plants back in Singapore.

Every turn along the way was a picturesque piece of art that Mother Nature painted. Even the little towns along the way had beautiful apartments and shop houses that I imagined only appeared in movies and dreams.

To make things even better, places I'd visited included not only the famous sites and icons of the Great Ocean Road, but a bunch of lesser-known gems that even the bigger tour buses do not have access to.


Wildlife Spotting - Bell's Beach - Split Point Lighthouse - Walk & Lunch in a Rain Forest - Twelve Apostles - Line Stone Rock Racks - London Bridge

 If my body was in a better condition, I'd have grabbed my backpack and went for the Great Ocean Road Walk! It's a sign to start pumping up my stamina, yes?

Or, perhaps, I could put a tick on my Caravan bucket list for the time being.

Anyhow, I'll definitely be back for you magnificent natural wonder again, mark my words. *.*