Friday, May 16, 2014

Service that Liberates Women

Last week, I had a wonderful opportunity to help women I will never know ... to bring a small measure of good into the lives of strangers, whose language I cannot understand.

This is a picture of a woman in Kenya.  It was taken by a group of women, serving other women in an organization called 'Days for Girls'.  The founder Ann Lewis, who had been to Africa on a humanitarian mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wanted to find an on going way that she could help the beautiful people she had come to love during her time in Kenya.

In her prayerful consideration of what she could do to make a difference, she felt prompted to inquire of a friend she had made in Kenya ... she emailed  "What do you do to take care of your 'time of the month'," or some such question.

A whole layer of culture was uncovered.  She was told that young school age girls often stayed home from school during their 'time'.  That they would be confined to sitting in their huts on a piece of card board, until their 'time' was over.  This lead to the girls getting behind in school, and then dropping out.  Because they were 'done' with school, they were considered marriageable, at ages as young as 12 and 13.  One photo of  a high school age class we saw, showed about 40 boys and 4 girls.

Ann conceived a program, where women in the United States would sew reusable sanitary pads in the bright, and dark colors that the women looked favored.  The resulting pads would not show staining, and would become an emancipating factor in the lives of these girls and women.
 Melissa Clark, a cohort of Ann's, came with boxes and boxes of precut flannel to be sewn into folding pads. She is shown below explaining the process to a couple of women in my We Can service group, at our first Monday meeting.

 We all got busy, cutting, sewing, turning, ironing and top stitching colorful octagonal pads.
The finished pads are folded like this, and then inserted into special holders that the girls can also wash as needed.

 Melissa told us of the need for dark patterned flannel, (no people or animal patterns, she said) ... this organization also collects money to buy bolts of flannel, and other materials for the production of this wonderful liberating product.  It was definitely a 'feel good' morning ... and I am personally sold on this project.
If you are interested in helping out with the Days for Girls program, click here.  The program has expanded since its inception and now helps women all over the world, including some areas of the United States.

1 comment:

  1. A very inspiring post, Paula. I often wondered how this issue was addressed in different cultures. I admire how willing you are to serve and how busy you are doing good things. Well done!