year 2, week 10: this week i'm gonna... keep girls in school. PERIOD.
In 2008, Celeste Mergens returned to Kenya to continue her ongoing work with orphanages and communities in the wake of great political and economic upset. One night she awoke with a burning question: What are the girls doing for feminine hygiene? "I'd thought so much about how to help those girls get food, water, textbooks, and cooking stoves," Celeste said, "but until then I'd never asked what they use for their periods."
The answer from the director of the orphanage was shocking: “Nothing. They wait in their rooms.” Not only were the girls missing out on their education, the conditions they waited in were cramped, unsanitary, and would leave the girls without food and water for days unless someone brought it to them. Sometimes girls would try and use corn husks, tree bark, leaves, or newspaper as pads, often resulting in infections.
Celeste knew she had to help. "Friends and I started sewing immediately - a few sewed until their fingertips bled," she said. "And three weeks later, we had made enough reusable pads for all the girls." Just like that, Days for Girls was born.
Celeste took the pads back to Kenya and met Nicole, a student who came forward with huge gratitude. Nicole explained that many of the girls were being exploited in exchange for hygiene if they wanted to leave their rooms or attend class.
Nicole's testimony was not unique. Celeste glimpsed the vulnerability that millions of women and girls face throughout the world every month, simply due to a basic biological function. These women and girls suffer in silence, due to cultural ideas and taboos surrounding menstruation. A simple thing like having proper sanitary hygiene empowers girls so that they do not have to hide, and they do not feel flawed or think less of themselves.
Days for Girls (DfG) International is dedicated to creating a more dignified, free, and educated world through access to lasting feminine hygiene solutions. DfG helps girls gain access to quality, sustainable feminine hygiene, vital health knowledge, and income generation opportunities. DfG works with a global alliance of over 800 chapters and teams, companies, governments, NGOs, and passionate donors and volunteers. They have reached over 400,000 girls in over 100 nations. Their goal is that every girl and woman in the world will have feasible access to quality sustainable hygiene and health education by 2022.
To learn more about Days for Girls, please watch the video below:
When a woman or girl receives a kit from Days for Girls, she gets back days of education, health, and opportunity that would otherwise be missed. Each kit lasts 2-3 years and gives girls back approximately 180 days over 3 years.
Days for Girls doesn't stop there -- the Days for Girls Enterprise Model provides women with sewing classes and tools to make their own kits. They can then sell them, keep the funds, and reinvest part of their income to buy their next batch of materials. These women are becoming self-sufficient and also reaching more women and girls.
In Lebanon, sewing classes help Syrian women and girls make reusable pads for themselves and their families. Everyday, these women and girls are sent to the fields in Bekaa Valley to work for less than $3 per day. When they are paid, they must give 50% of their money to the camp manager and the other 50% to the head of their household. If a girl/woman needs anything for herself, she has to ask for money. She only has access to the cheaply made pads at the store, which irritate skin and are very uncomfortable. Sometimes there isn't enough money for pads, so she uses old cloths to manage her period.
A Days for Girls kit is empowering for these women. They can now manage their own menstruation needs. They do not need to ask anyone else for money to buy pads. They do not have to deal with irritation from cheap products.
Days for Girls kits are truly life-changing. For every girl. Everywhere. PERIOD.
Notes for this week:
- International Women's Day is March 8th!
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor the creation of over 70 kits (70 women and girls reached, 12,960 days of education and opportunity earned back.)
- For more information regarding Days For Girls, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Days For Girls.