Many of us take everyday items for granted and it’s easy to forget that the simple things we consider an “essential” may be an unavailable luxury for others. We were reminded of this by one of the visitors to our Club, June Sirman.
June came to attend a lunchtime talk by another speaker at the invitation of Rotarian Canon David Naumann, but while she was with us she spoke a little bit about “Days for Girls” (DfG), a non-profit with which she is involved. The US based organisation helps produce and deliver hygiene kits to girls and young women in developing countries, at the same time delivering health information to them.
DfG was founded in 2008 when its founder and CEO, Celeste Mergens, was working in Kenya. While helping in an orphanage out there Celeste asked herself: “What are girls doing for feminine hygiene?” She was shocked to discover that girls had to wait in their rooms and rely on others to bring them food for several days each month during their period. Celeste’s first idea, disposable pads, had a major shortcoming: disposal. So then she came up with the idea of a washable pad…and since then there have been 28 different iterations to come up with the design that is provided today in DfG hygiene kits. It’s estimated that by using the kits, over the course of 3 years girls spend 180 MORE days in school – that’s around 6 months!
The organisation has served over 75 countries on 6 continents, already reaching over 100,000 women and girls. June told us how DfG is always looking for volunteers (men and women) around the world to get involved in producing the hygiene kits as a sewing project – from “Solo sewists” to “Teams” and “Chapters”. Quality control is very important, so all volunteers undertake a free training course (which can be done online) before becoming registered; they must also use the template and instructions developed by DfG. Volunteers needn't just be people who sew – they can also help by washing, ironing, cutting, and assembling the materials; there’s plenty else to do! And of course DfG needs donors and sponsors too.
After the meeting June showed interested members the contents of kits and the flip chart that is used to provide health information, telling us about the unique pattern and directing us to the website for more information about how to get involved.
Days for Girls website.
Picture: Days for Girls healthcare information flipchart. Picture credit: The Rotary Club of Canterbury.