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!
Thanks to your support, we trained over 50 girls at KG6 (King George the 6th) Special needs school. Linda is returning to do follow up by August 1 thanks to your recent support she has been able to pay an elder woman to purchase fabric and sew more liners for them.
Who is Linda? Linda Guhza is the Director of Days for Girls Zimbabwe. She is dedicated to reaching more of the girls and women of her nation because she has experienced what happens without access to feminine hygiene herself, "When I was a young girl my mother worked hard to support our family and we were able to go to school. But I had to use whatever I could to stay in school and many times I left in shame because I had a stain. Boys laughed at me. If I wasn't so determinined, I would not have made it. I understand how hard it is. I want to change that." Linda has been away from Zimbabwe for a few months now. She is returning on July 22nd to bring more fabric and follow up on results with those trained as Days for Girls Ambassadors of Women's Health there. She reports, "Our outreach to empower women by giving them dignity and their days back led us to one of the biggest Female Prisons in Zimbabwe (Mlondolozi Female Prison) we had the rare opportunity to train over 100 female inmates [on] how to make their own reusable pads. Prisons in Zimbabwe are overcrowded and female inmates live under unsanitary conditions which can lead to poor health and the spread of infectious disease. Daily these women prisoners are confronted with unique challenges namely menstruation among others and no special attention is given to female inmates and sanitary wear is not provided. They were happy beyond words."
She reports that, "At Mhandambwe High School in Zvishavane we trained 50 girls and 4 teachers and I am returning to see how they are as well. And to follow up in Elitsheni where 120 women were trained in how to make their own pads, about their bodies and even to make a Tippy Tap handwashing machine."
Your donations made those trainings and the materials possible. Your donations are funding more fabric while she is there. And that (as you can probably tell) means the world to her and to us. Thank you! She will be sharing pictures and more results when she returns. I can't wait to hear all of the details and to share it with those of you that make it all possible. Thank you!
From the 27 schools covered 50 students were selected to represent their respective schools and were trained. Several women from the community were selected to take part in this exercise and were trained too.Also there’s women’s groups that, using in part the knowledge and fabric resources that you made possible, are also making pads in Lupane. This group applied for grants and loans to forward their efforts to make pads. Since January they have managed to make 200 kits of which the Manager of the centre says, “It’s quite an achievement considering the fact that it’s the farming season.” During the farming season most households would rather put their focus and energy on farming since its their source of livelihood and in countries like Zimbabwe women are the backbone of farming. They did this with the PUL fabric DFG supporters like you provided. Now they are requesting more fabric and funding for fabric.
We're gearing up to head to Uganda! By the time you get this, we'll be gone. Thanks to your support we will be taking additional fabric that they can not purchase there (and exploring further with dignitaries how to mnake that fabric available in Uganda). We'll distribute kits for two schools while there. The Lions Club of Harborview sent reading glasses for those going without (How can you sew if you can't see?). And... vitally, to train the trainers. What does that mean? We will teach Ugandan Regional Representatives to instruct women all over Uganda to train others to be Ambassadors of Women's Health: A national network of women sewing kits, empowering to teach about health, hygiene, reproductive health, menstrual health management and of course to distribute kits. This is it! Taking the national dignity model to the next level so it can be applied worldwide. And it's all thanks to you! You'll be with us in our hearts, because YOU chose to be a champion for girls with us.
You should see the girl's faces when they receive kits. I hope you can come someday. They are so grateful. The last time we were there a girl in Gulu, Uganda said when she was asked if her kit would really change anything, "We will no longer have to fear." Thanks to you more girls will have more dignity, more safety, less distraction at school and yes, less fear. For that matter, without your support, she might not have been able to stay in class at all. It never ceases to amaze me that such a simple, direct solution improves so much for girls around the globe. Thank you for being an important part of the solution.
If anyone asks what you made possible, tell them that YOU and Days for Girls International are creating a more dignified, humane and sustainable world for girls. Tell them that women and girls trained to be Ambassadors discover their potential and self-value, are equal participants and agents of social change and are given opportunities to thrive, grow and contribute to their community’s betterment while ensuring quality sustainable feminine hygiene. THAT is what you are making possible. There is more: By proving the model and creating important partnerships we can reach every girl. Everywhere. Period. One girl at a time. Thanks in part to you.
We'll keep you posted!
Now, let's just hope the snow in the East has passed by the time we get there so our layover doesn't become a REALLY long stay.
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