Back to school! You have made it possible for so many girls to go back to school and stay there with dignity and confidence. Women too, have more opportunties for serving as leaders and building a business in their communities, thanks to you. It has been a busy summer for the Ugandan team of Days for Girls International. We have travelled all over the country, served some amazing people and organizations, and helped expand awareness about the state of menstrual hygiene management in Uganda. Thanks to everyone at Global Giving for your support in this journey! We have made a lot of progress in a short period of time and it is all thanks to our incredible network of supporters around the world.
We are getting great opportunities to share the training models your support has made possible and to expand our reach, working with a diverse group of communities, from South Sudanese refugees to rural farming communities to government officials. We like to share the individual stories of the girls and women and this time there is so much going on that we wanted to share more of the big picture of what you are making possible.
3000 Women at the South Sudanese Refugee Camp, Adjumani, Uganda
In July, the DfGU team traveled to northern Uganda to conduct a distribution of menstrual hygiene kits for 3,000 South Sudanese refugees. About 2,000 of the kits were sent in from DfG chapters around the world, and the remaining kits were made right in our office in Kampala. In partnership with Uganda’s Ministry of Disaster Relief and the Church of Latter-Day Saints, we ventured to the camp to meet the women and begin the distribution process. Diva, our incredible sewing officer, lead a short training with the women on how to use the kit. Picture 3,000 women... that's a whole lot of restored dignity to those that had lost everything.
After that, the distribution began! Each of the four DfGU staff members set up a station with an English-speaking South Sudanese counterpart to help translate. The women lined up at the different stations, while children gathered around to see what was taking place. For four hours in the hot sun we handed out the kits to girls and women. After collecting their kits, many of the women stuck around and sat in groups comparing and admiring their kits. It was an incredible experience for everyone involved and we are hoping to go back again soon and distribute in another section of the camp.
Leading Leaders – Meeting DRC Congo Chapter Coordinator Starla
Part of what you have been supporting is helping us refine our programs so that they could be replicated around the globe. We have recently had the great privilege of hosting and training with DRC Congo volunteer Chapter Coordinator, Starla. She is a dynamo and really took our time together seriously. She is laying the foundation for truly exemplary work in Congo and it was an honor to work with her. Your support made that possible.
Musaale Community Center, Buwagogo, Uganda
Soon after our northern Uganda trip, we trekked off towards Eastern Uganda to work with a wonderful group of women at the Musaale Community Center. We were connected to these women through Days for Girls Australia, and asked to provide a training in kit construction, soap making, and business skills. We were hosted in the home of the Local Chairperson for Buwagogo and enjoyed meals made straight from their garden every day (and milk straight from their cows).
This training was slightly different than any training we have done before because many of the women have been out of school since they were children, and so we adjusted the pace of the lessons to meet their various learning styles and speeds. Overall, the training was incredible. The women showed so much interest and determination to learn the skills we were imparting. Most of them traveled long distances by foot to attend the lessons each day and often brought along their young children or babies. After they completed the soap training, they were excited to take home and sample and try it out for their laundry. We have kept in touch via phone and will be heading back before too long to conduct a follow-up visit.
Days for Girls Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
Our trip to Kenya was a little different than our previous travels… Instead of conducting any trainings or distributions, we were traveling there to meet with our wonderful Days for Girls Kenya colleagues and to learn about flannel production in Nairobi. We stopped in Nakuru to meet the amazing DfGK team that is Julie and Masese! Their team is preparing to ramp up operations in Kenya using the knowledge our efforts here in Uganda have developed. We enjoyed sharing many ideas and lessons from our experiences. We picked up more quality fabric resources while there too!
Menstrual Hygiene Management Conference, Kampala, Uganda
Although our entire summer has been full and productive as we shared trainings and local empowerment, one of the highlights for all of us was our attendance at the Menstrual Hygiene Management Conference on August 14th and 15th. This conference was hosted by SNV, the Dutch Development Organization, and The Network for Water and Sanitation (NETWAS). There were over 200 participants present, and they represented countries all over Africa, from Uganda to Kenya to Mozambique to Zimbabwe.
Through this conference, we learned about the amazing work being done to address MHM needs at the government level, in the private sector, and among other non-profits and non-governmental organizations. DfGU appreciated being featured there, presenting a paper and PowerPoint presentation on our mission, approach, and model. We met so many amazing people and have been busily scheduling follow-up meetings with each and every one of them. The results and network just keeps growing!
This fall, we will continue our traveling and networking as we arrange distributions and offer more trainings for school groups, community groups, and even other trainers. All of this work is possible with your support and if you could see the gratitude we see every day, you would know just how vital your support has been. We’re happy to serve and couldn’t do so without your support. Thank you! We’ll report back soon.
How do you know a project is succeeding? When demand and programs keep showing increased results. Big things have been happening in Uganda thanks to all of our Global Giving supporters!
In late March, the Days for Girls Uganda (DfGU) team traveled to Kisiki College in Eastern Uganda to conduct reproductive health training and a large reusable menstrual kit distribution.
In partnership with the school, the DfGU team was able to conduct research on how menstruation is affecting the lives of the female students. At that school 70% of the students interviewed stated that they had missed class as a result of menstruation!
The word cloud below illustrates the students' response to how they feel when they don't have materials to help manage their menstruation. The bigger the word, the more gave that answer.
Thankfully, because of your support, the Days for Girls team was able to distribute reusable menstrual kits to all 653 female students enrolled in Kisiki College.
Thanks to your support, the DfGU team also trained all 1,428 students (both male and female) in reproductive health knowledge. After the training one of the teachers approached the staff to express her gratitude She said that lack of reproductive health knowledge is a big problem throughout Ugandan schools. Students often approach the teachers asking for advice and information regarding the body changes that they're experiencing and how to manage the emotional ups and downs of puberty. She said that, not having received thorough training herself, she felt ill equip to handle such situations. After having gone through the training and receiving a Days for Girls Reproductive Health and Empowerment Manual, the teacher stated that both she and her students are armed with the information that they need to keep themselves safe and healthy..
Defend One Trainings
The Days for Girls Uganda team was able to partner with Defend One, a US based non-profit working in Uganda, to carryout soaping making, reproductive health, and business skills trainings as well as reusable menstrual kit distributions in Iganga and Kamuli Districts.
Training women in how to make soap is an initiative that has impacts on multiple levels. One, the soap that the women make can be used to wash their reusable menstrual pads. Two, increasing access to soap helps communities combat dangerous, communicable illnesses such as cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea. Three, making and selling soap is a great business and can help local women become self-reliant so they can pull themselves out of poverty.
Women who participated in the Kamuli training were particularly appreciative of the opportunity to diversify their income. Days for Girls works primarily with subsistence farmers. A few weeks prior to our training, Kamuli experienced a devastating storm which destroyed most of the women's crops.
"I liked the whole program of Days for Girls because a storm has recently affected this village and we were left with nothing. The coffee was destroyed, the maize has been affected by pests and nothing is growing. Because of the soap training I can have an extra income which will help keep my kids in school." Jennifer M.
Days for Girls both trains women in reproductive health knowledge and encourages mothers to talk to their children about the changes they'll experience as they go through puberty. One woman told us about the impact that understanding menstruation and creating an open dialogue has had on her family.
"I learned how to be clean as a woman and I learned what to teach my children about being clean and hygienic. I've even already started talking to them about it. I've told them about menstruation and how it comes about. I told them about the age that it starts, how it comes and so much. I realized that it was normal for my daughter to have started her menstruation early. I learned that menstruation can come at any age, it does not mean that someone is abnormal."
The team was able to train many women and distribute many kits between the two communities.
We feel so fortunate to be able to create real and tangible impacts in the lives of the women and communities we serve. Thank you for supporting Days for Girls and helping us continue to serve women around the world.
In the past few weeks DfGU has also been creating kits for the Somalian refuge camps in Northern Uganda and continueing to meet the demand for more training for more groups. Kenya has begun to step up their activities to do likewise as they apply the lessons learned in Uganda. Now we are readying to share it with groups around the globe. Thank you for helping make it all possible.This is how together, we can reach every girls, everywhere. Period. But it will take all of us and your support is helping make it happen.
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.
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.
Happy International Day of the Girl! We thought this is the perfect time to report back about the girls and women you have empowered with your support. In the past few months Days for Girls kits have reached a milestone of service to 61 nations on 6 continents. YOU have been a big part of that. Your support of Days for Girls has enabled not only more momentum to reach more women and girls but also has expanded in-country training measurement and results in Uganda and beyond so women in the nations we serve can meet the needs of their own communities. The lessons we learn from different trials will help us to scale feminine hygiene solutions around the world in a way that empowers girls, women, communities and local leadership and economy. It's working and it isn't easy, but you have made it easier with your vital support.
DfGUganda Team members biggest projects from recent months has been refining local manufacturing methods and setting up and implementing a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) program. The M&E program has been led by students from BYU, who are working with Days for Girls to measure how Days for Girls kits are impacting school attendance. In addition, we are measuring how the reproductive health training is impacting self-esteem and how girls view their roles in communities. This M&E program aims to capture the whole picture of every sector of a girl’s life that is impacted by Days for Girls programs. The M&E program will conclude in October and then be drafted into a published paper. We'll report back when we have those results. We're grateful for the effort and we're willing to ask questions about what's working, and what might not be, for the sake of the girls and more awareness worldwide. We've been asking hard questions all along our journey and the results have been innovations led by the wisdom of the women we serve. Those innovations are working.
Meanwhile many partnering orgs have transported our kits and supplies with us and provided important distributions. Hundreds and hundreds of kits and bolts and bolts of specialized fabrics purchased with your support that are now being put to work to create kits in Uganda and beyond.
During the past several months, the Uganda team has also continued to provide health education to schools in Kampala and beyond. For many girls, this is the only chance they will get to learn about essential health matters and to ask questions, so the information we’re providing couldn’t be more important. More and more kits have been handed out all over the nation as women also learn to make their own.
In addition to working with 3 schools to implement the M&E program and continuing reproductive health training, the Days for Girls Uganda team has been hard at work getting ready to fill large kit orders. One high school in eastern Uganda has ordered 800 kits! With demand like this, it’s a good thing we’re scaling up!
How we’re scaling up is the current focus. The Days for Girls kit design is in demand far and wide. There is no end in site. However, even more than needing a hygiene kit, women want to know how to make the kits and earn income from selling them in their communities.
There is a huge demand among NGOs worldwide to invest in training for women who already know how to sew. Because of this, Days for Girls Uganda has already been able to build new partnerships, both with Ugandan and international organizations. Days for Girls team members are sewing and reproductive health experts, and that's exactly what we want to share with women in Uganda. Many income-generation projects exist for crafts, but DfG Uganda will be moving beyond that, providing women the skills, materials, and business support to enable them to sell something that every woman needs.
There are a lot of very exciting new developments as we move forward in our next steps. We are proud to welcome Eliza Chard, our new Uganda Country Director. Our staff members will also have some important new responsibilities as they gather data, serve to train trainers, provide kits and learn how to be better leaders in tackling these issues throughout their nation. It's an important effort not just for Uganda but to be scaled in the many nations also asking for this level of support in reaching women and girls lacking basic resources to manage their health and dignity month after month after month in a way they can count on. Thank you for being part of so many lives changed for good. Stay tuned for the reports from the M&E. We can't wait to share. Just one small snapshot of the many places you are empowering with more health, dignity and opportunity as we work to reach every girl. Everywhere. Period. Thank you!
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