There is so much to report to you about the difference your support has made. Brigham Young University conducted a University Measurement and Evaluation survey. The results confirm what our experiences suggest: Days for Girls empowers women and girls. The survey results are included below in a graph called a “word cloud.” The number of girls who respond with a given word translates into each word’s size in the illustration.
Meanwhile Days for Girls Uganda (DfGU) continues to expand its “training of trainers” programs, helping numerous nonprofits to start their own kit-manufacturing and menstrual health teams, which means a growing number of women are empowered to help their communities access hygiene while boosting their economic potential, thanks to your support. I have attached a few photos of one of the trainings that took place recently at Bishop Angelo Vocational Training School- Aduku, Apac District. Some of the women there shared their personal stories and you can see a few of them and their photos here too:
Here’s what Abur E. recently shared after receiving her kit and training with DfGU at the Vocational school: “…I used to have a lot of difficulties because I'm an orphan so I'm not able to afford pads.... If I had a heavy flow, it could stain my knickers and my clothes. It was really affecting my life because if I was menstruating, I could just hide. I'm appreciating you coming because I've realized that now I will be free and even stay with people if I'm menstruating because I don't have to worry about leaking. I can just stay with people. I will also use the skills that DfG taught in order to earn a living. I will start a business of making and selling reusable menstrual kits in my community and earn money. This will allow me to take care of my siblings... The reusable pads are really important to the women in the village where I stay because most women don't have money to buy pads… I appreciate you coming a lot because it's given me hope for the future. I had lost hope, thinking that I wouldn't be able to do anything but now I have hope for the future again.”
Akullu S. is 21 and she said, “I always use clothes or toilet tissue… Some materials can cause burning and hurt me so much. These ones weren't good but because of problems I had no options. I would use it but wouldn't be comfortable in the public. I would always be standing because if I sit down I might get stains. Now I'm very happy because of the skills that I got in making reusable pads. Now if I'm in my menses I'm safe and secure because I know that even if I go in public I won't have stains in my cloths. Secondly, I used to be so worried if I was about to get my menstruation because I wasn't sure where I would get the money for toilet tissue but now I'm happy because I know I'm safe because I know that I have a reusable menstrual kit that I can use for three years. “
Amuge F. is 17 and she writes, “I appreciate Days for Girls coming here. For me I used to use pads but I used to have a lot of burning because I have my menstruation for one week. I would use the pads from morning up to evening because the pads are very expensive and I can't afford to change them more often. By the time I finished my menstruation I would have painful burns and wouldn't even want to move. When I go to school my family gives me two packets of pads but I use one full pack in a month because my period lasts for long. I run out and then have to use clothe. I don't know how to fold the clothe[s] well so I fear that if I'm moving, it can fall out. It causes me a lot of anxiety because I fear that it will fall. I'm really very excited about the DfG training in reusable pads. I'm happy to have a reusable pad that I don't have concerns about because the other disposable pads that I used to use were also not reliable, they could slip off over time. With these ones I am confident that they won't slip out because they have a snap.
When I'm at home sometimes they send us for water with a bicycle. Riding a bicycle can cause the cloth I used before to go out of place and fall out. With these reusable menstrual pads I'm confident that they won't fall out because of the snaps that hold them in place.
Days for Girls reusable pads are so good. I'm really happy to know how to make the pads. I'm so blessed because Days for Girls came.”
These miracles are possible because of your support. I hope you truly recognize your important part in this. We do. None of this would happen without your help.
You sent support and Linda Guhza bought flannel for liners and sheeting fabric for the shields. Among the beneficiaries was Mind the Gap, a Zimbabwean nonprofit to help with their ongoing efforts to raise awareness among the girls and to have supplies they need. We also visited Elitsheni women’s group to train more girls in their area.
Lupane: Another bolt of PUL (Polyeurothane Laminate, the special moisture barrier fabric that keeps shields from leaking through) was sent to Lupane as they are progressing very well and they have managed to secure more funding from other NGOs as well and they are currently supporting and training more than 27 schools in the district and training more than 30 women.
At Zvishavane: Mhandamabwe High School more students we supplied pads in Zvishavane are now regularly attending classes even when they are experiencing their monthly periods. We are working very hard to keep sanitation improved in Mhandamabwe High school by providing water facilities and clean washing facilities for the girl’s toilets with the help of the village service chiefs and local member of parliaments. The head teacher at the school where the sanitary pad project is being implemented said, "This makes school, girl friendly, thus reducing the level of absenteeism for the girl child."
A Remind School : As this is a rehabilitation center there are always new girls at the facility all the time and we need to expand and improve our efforts. We are still in the process of assessing whether it will be viable to establish a continuous program at the facility and maybe have a DFG ambassador go there about once a month. Our continuous training and engagement will have a tremendous impact from what we are learning. This year we intend to expand our efforts here.
New Ground: We would like to expand our activities this year by sending 300 pads in Shurugwi district by end of September as we have identified 3 potential schools that are in dire need.We are also treading carefully to engage more schools as new schools keep on requesting our services and training but we have to have the resources for each before committing to them.
Thank you for helping us reach more girls. Please tell others about these important projects. We can reach more with your help.
Thinking of you as we focus on Thanksiving and now Giving Tuesday today, because YOU make so much thankfulness possible for so many girls and women. Your important giving and support of Days for Girls has helped thousands of girls and women have access to hygiene they can count on month after month. You have helped them have freedom to stay in school or work, and to have more dignity, more health. In honor of your support, we wanted to share recent reports from a few of the girls who have received kits because of your support. We have attached a letter from a 16 year old in Uganda so you can see her message in her own writing telling about the kit she received that you made possible. Another girl, Gladys N. from Kenya writes, "I want to thank Days for Girls for the sanitary towels. My days are no longer shameful, I feel like I can face each day with confidence and now I do not have to miss school when my periods come. Thanks to Days for Girls." You made that possible with your support too.
There is another powerful component of Days for Girls that you have made possible: health education about what a period is and how to manage it. This is a subject so taboo that millions of girls and women are left at risk because, let's be honest, the world doesn't want to talk about periods. We are working to change that, you are helping make it possible. In Kenya, a bright, articulate 16 year-old girl who trained with Days for Girls to train others was overjoyed to learn what a period is, because she had been assuming for 2 years that her menses meant that she had AIDS and she had just lived with the fear until she learned from Days for Girls that there was no need for fear nor for shame. It's an important topic one well worth breaking silence and shattering taboos for.
Sharon N. is a student at Victoria Secondary School, Buikwe District, age 16. She shares what it was like to not know, saying, "One day I was sitting in class at school and felt something wet pass through my skirt. It was strange and I felt scared about it. I lived with only my brother and no one had ever told me about periods. I didn't know what was happening and I was not prepared with anything to manage it. I felt very bad. I used a piece of cloth but it was very dirty. I didn't know what else to do and I couldn't tell my brother. I'm happy now that I have information about my body and a reusable pad."
And Olivia N., a 14 year old student at Victoria Secondary School, Buikwe District, told our team about what it was like to start her period without knowing what it was. She reports, "When I was 9 years old I woke up feeling pain in my stomach. When I reached the toilet I found blood. I asked myself, 'What is this?!?!' I didn't tell my family about what was happening because I feared that they would abuse me and beat me. I went back to bed. I woke up in the morning and sat at the table and thought that the blooding must have started from an insect entering inside of me. I worried that I was going to die. Then my mother came and asked me, 'What are you doing?' I told her that I saw blood coming from my private parts. She told me that this was normal for women and that I was not going to die. She gave me a piece of cloth and told me how to use it to catch the blood. Then she told said, 'Repeat after me. One, two, three.' I did and then she said that after three days I would stop bleeding. This is the story of my first menstruation. I feared a lot because I thought I was going to die. No one had ever told me about menstruation before. I am happy that Days for Girls came to tell us about menstruation."
Thank you for all you do to make a difference for girls and women around the globe with us. We promise to keep working hard to ensure that your support adds up to results that really count and keeps adding up to more change lives.
PS: I thought you might like to see the recent TedX talk featuring the story of Days for Girls! The link is below. Thanks again for your support. Together we can change so many lives.