GirlStuff is about Equality
The GirlStuff initiative and business is grounded in equality. It is not about dominance or tipping the scales one another. It is about bringing a balance to communities, as they grow into the future, in which every person is embraced, accepted and valued because they are a person.
The Power in Equality?
Equality is having the ability and foresight to see the person first and because we see first simply the person and NOT their attributes or defining characteristics, we are in fact, able to celebrate their uniqueness and see clearly how they can contribute and strengthen the community. It's not to say people do not have attributes that may not be valuable, it's about seeing the ones that are and being able to apply those they do have appropriately or even differently.
It's the ability and skill, to be able to see more than simply judgment, which enables people to become resilient and be able to hold onto hope and keep moving forward, upward.
Reaching Further, Faster
In building the business in Bergnek, we've realized we need to take bigger steps, and to take them at a faster pace. As a result, Bergnek Community Projects has taken the steps to grow the Bergnek based, GirlStuff business by signing an MOU in October 2014 to raise money and expand the Business working with a new partner. We know that GirlStuff provides girls with the washable and reusable feminine hygiene supplies that they cannot afford to buy, but desperately need, so they can attend school. We are also closing the loop on other related needs, such as school uniforms and sports wear. The additional funds that we raise will help us to reach across South Africa and the surounding region.
Why the focus on Girls? Keeping girls in school longer, gives them the chance to take advantage of opportunities that they otherwise would never have had the opportunity to, which has a direct benefit on their communities. In general, there are different expectations set for boys, and they get to avail themselves of a broader range of opportunities than girls do. The facts show that girls who get exposed to more opportunities, greater opportunities, do significantly more for their communities than their male counterparts. The time has come to do more to enable girls to see more and do more.
How can you help?
Your contributions and donations DO help and there are a number of ways that you can support the communities efforts to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the girls, women and children that we serve.
Please Donate Now!
Putting the pieces of the puzzle together
Keeping girls in school is a great cause and we love what we do, however there is a bigger picture we need to consider aside from providing the reusable, washable, menstrual kits we make and supply to the girls in the communities we work in.
Fresh, Healthy Food
Proving the menstrual kits for the girls that simply cannot afford to buy menstrual kits is a key part of helping to get girls back into schools and to support them all the way through grade 12 and beyond. Another part of the picture includes providing support for the food they would otherwise be gathering or working for to bring home to their families.
To address this, My Arms Wide Open also has the 'My World in a Garden' program, also on GlobalGiving, in which we grow healthy vegetables and herbs in vertical garden walls We establish and build these gardens on the school property or in the community center compound, if there is one in the community. The technology we use allows us to produce enough fresh vegetables to be able to support the girls and their families each week, up to 150 people per wall. We use less water and the girls are able to tend the walls and reap the benefits for their families.
The clothes our girls need
In addition to the fresh vegetables and herbs our gardens provide, GirlStuff has now also started making full school uniforms and sports gear that the girls need in order to attend school.
Completing the puzzle
Once we address all three of these needs, we have a chance to keep girls in school longer, and hopefully all the way through Grade 12 and beyond to enable them to afford themselves of the same opportunities boys have without having to go through the complications girls do.
To complete the puzzle My Arms Wide Open and it’s partners also build and support infrastructure development in the communities. Our focus in our ‘One Brick at a Time’ program, also on GlobalGiving, is on water, sanitation, housing and healthcare.
Your contributions make the difference
Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please take action today. The girls, women and children we serve are grateful for your support.
Take a Trip and Get involved
Another form of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to work alongside these truly wonderful people in the Bergnek community. Take a look at the ‘My World In a Garden’ EcoTravel. Option.
We are grateful for your support. The women, girls and children of the My Arms Wide Open communities extend a warm smile and echo our gratitude and thanks.
Creating a Sustainable Community-based Business
While creating a community-based business that meets the needs of a community and addresses issues within the community is important, it's not everything. What's more important is that that business is able to sustain itself and the people involved over the long-term. This takes dedication, resources and the transfer of skills into the community along with a need for the products it provides outside of the community as well.
The need to create more opportunities for girls
In South Africa, illiteracy rates near 18% in adults 15 years or older. The unemployment rate is an estimated 25% with 25.9% of women over 15 being unemployed. Uneducated girls remain trapped in a downward cycle of denied rights and poverty throughout their lives. Fewer than 10% of the girls stay in school to go further than Grade 8 because of challenges that result in part from not having access to underwear and menstrual products as a young girl as well as other issues, such as food insecurity.
These challenges have a life-long damaging effect on girls' self-esteem and significantly reduce the opportunities available to them or that they can take advantage of because of them being denied the same opportunities as the boys might have in their communities.
Without even basic education girls remain trapped in a vicious circle of poverty. They are excluded from the labor market and forced into informal or unpaid work. They don’t understand basic health, nutrition, family planning or HIV/AIDS issues. They aren't able to secure any other rights for themselves. And, they will never reach their potential to become positive forces for good in their communities. It is imperative that girls be given an equitable chance at gaining an education and employment. And that is what GirlStuff™ is here to do, as a response to this desperate need.
You can support GirlStuff and help girls succeed
Since it's start GirlStuff has supplied over 1,000 menstrual kits and products to girls in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Limpopo and Guateng provinces of South Africa, as well as girls in Botswana and Zimbabwe. We are currently working on a potential contract in Mozambique, with the help of our GlobalGiving field Agent. The business is making great strides supporting the women and families working in GirlStuff and we hope to achieve volumes that will make the business sustainable within the next 12 months.
Here's what else we need:Last year GirlStuff had the products tested through the South African Bureau of Standards ('SABS') and the products passed with flying colors. The next step in the process is to have a test designed for reusable, washable menstrual pads and to gain actual certification. To accomplish this we will need to raise $4,000 to go through the full certification process. This will enable GirlStuff to use the SABS certified product seal and be able to sell the products into market segments we can't reach without the certification.
Having the certification will give us the opportunity to increase volumes substantially and therefore increase the number of people, specifically women, working in the business.
Spread the Word
Help us to get other people involved in the GirlStuff Program, which provide a direct benefit to girls in grades 5-12 in the communities of rural South Africa. Please forward our reports/emails and ask friends and family if they would like to support the My Arms Wide Open's programs.
Can you make a new donation today or perhaps set up a monthly or quarterly recurring donation? Please consider it and take action today. The women and girls we serve are grateful for all of the support you have already given them.
Another form of contributing: There are also opportunities for you to join us in Africa to work alongside these truly wonderful women in the Bergnek community. Take a look at the EcoTravel link below for more information.
Thank you for your continued support of the women, girls and children of the My Arms Wide Open communities.
Please share this update with people and organizations you are connected to.
Over the past few months we've had some inquiries as to why a program such as GirlStuff, which manufactures, sells and distributes reusable, washable menstrual products is so important.
The Pads4Girls program was started by two highly talented and commited women in Vancouver, the co-founders of Lunapads, Madeleine and Suzzane. We took their lead in 2010 and ran with it, with tremendous support from the entire team at Lunapads.
In South Africa, illiteracy rates near 18% in adults 15 years or older. The unemployment rate is an estimated 25% with 25.9% of women over 15 being unemployed. Uneducated girls remain trapped in a downward cycle of denied rights and poverty throughout their lives. Fewer than 10% of the girls do not go further than Grade 8 because of challenges that result in part from not having access to underwear and menstrual products as a young girl.
The girls are teased and bullied because their first or subsequent period starts at an inopportune moment at school. This crushes their self esteem and they end up dropping out of school permanently.
Without even basic education girls remain trapped in a vicious circle of poverty. They are excluded from the labor market and forced into informal or unpaid work. They don’t understand basic health, nutrition, family planning or HIV/AIDS issues. They aren't able to secure any other rights for themselves. And, they will never reach their potential to become positive forces for good in their communities. It is imperative that girls be given an equitable chance at gaining an education and employment. And that is what GirlStuff™ is here to do as a response to this desperate need.
Last year GirlStuff had the products tested through the South African Bureau of Standards ('SABS') and the products passed with flying colours as we noted in our previous report. The next step in the process is to gain actual certification and to accomplish this we will need to raise $4,000 to go through the full certification process. This will enable GirlStuff to use the SABS certified product seal and be able to sell the products into market segments we can't reach without the certification, at this point.
So far we have produced and distributed over 1,000 menstrual kits to school aged girls in Limpopo, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. We are anxious to do a lot more with your help.
We are excited to share our latest project update and report with you. There is so much activity taking place that is supporting the GirlStuff business and the Bergnek Communities goals to create additional employment through the project.In the past few months we have been very busy. We’ve acquired new customers and are working on a few more both in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The great news is that as we complete negotiations and secure the new contracts for longer term supply of the menstrual kits we will be able to employ more women in the Bergnek Community.To support the business we also invested in getting the products tested by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and submitted our samples 2 months ago. Just this week we received the report back and passed, or as they put it ‘complied’, with flying colours, after making a couple of minor adjustments to increase absorbency.As you might remember from our last report the GirlStuff business and Keabetswe where featured on television in South Africa. The pice was very well received and generated a number of new leads for us and supported some that we have been working on.Here’s where we need your help: Next steps are for GirlStuff to increase capacity with the purchase of additional equipment, supplies and cash resources to support anticipated new contracts and orders.Can you make a donation today and perhaps make it a recurring donation? The women and children of Bergnek are grateful for all of the support you have give them.Thank you for your continued support of the women and children of the Bergnek Community and the My Arms Wide Open programs.
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