Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for you and for the amazing people we have had the privilege of serving with and serving for in Zimababwe... that includes YOU. Some of the most moving stories of results and courage of those standing up for their community to have more access to feminine hygiene and more health knowledge have been from this project in Zimbabwe. So many heroes who have overcome ill health, poverty and transportation issues just to keep teaching and sharing how to make kits and how to stay healthy. In fact, in one location we learned they were skipping meals so they could afford transport to keep teaching... as volunteers... in Zimbabwe. It's unheard of but they have that level of passion. We asked them not to skip meals and to seek support for transport. You sent it. We are so grateful for your support in making it all happen. The director of Days for Girls Zimbabwe has been in Germany with her family and we are working with her and a new partner to ensure that large scale materials are available to those making kits in Zimbabwe. It's promising, but it is a process that is taking time. So for a small window of time we will can all celebrate a job well done in Zimbabwe and pause to get ready to send a whole lot of resources to the strong and resilient women in Zimbabwe. Thank you for being part of the empowerment there. Please consider staying with us on our Empower Women in Africa with Hygiene project and stay tuned for more information about what's next for Zimbabwe.
Sending our appreciation for your part in changing SO many lives.
And many more to come.
Two years ago 52 individuals gathered in Bullawayo, Zimbabwe to learn how to be Ambassadors of Women's Health and to make washable feminine hygiene. Two of those individuals would not take no for an answer as they reached out to their communities and instructed with the knowledge they had gained. They also had the leadership of a Governor who embraced Days for Girls with enthusiasm. Those two, one a woman and one the first ever male Ambassador of Women's Health, are on course to cover their entire district. They have covered 27 schools.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 the knowledge and fabric resources that you made possible, is also making pads in Lupane, this group applied for grants and loans to forward their efforts loan from an International NGO to make pads, and will pay back the loan in December 2013. 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) in countries like Zimbabwe women are the backbone of farming.Now they are requesting more fabric and funding for fabric.
The amazing thing is that as we continue to prove this model and improve upon it, that EVERY District in Zimbabwe can be served and the model can be applied elsewhere in the world as well. There are still the other 50 Ambassadors, awaiting more services to reach more girls and women. It's breathtaking to consider all that is possible. World peace... One pad at a time. DfGI will be taking more fabric and resources to the team in Zimbabwe this Summer and gathering their stories and results. That fabric and needed resources will be there, in part because of YOUR support.
Did you know that Days for Girls is committed to reaching every girl, everywhere. Period. By 2022. That can only happen with lots of collaboration, and by empowering in-country programs as well, like this one-- one of the first-- and the women you have helped in Zimbabwe. We were set to return again next month, but elections worldwide are not always a safe place to travel during election time. It is very difficult for us to wait to bring more supplies and empower more training in Zimbabwe. And at the advice of trusted allies, our scheduled trip has to wait.
The girls and women in Zimbabwe have taught us over and over again the gravity of the situation they face without access to hygiene. It was in Zimbabwe that a Minister of government said, "Dignity can't wait" when she heard about what we do and in response embraced our program and the dignity it restores. I'll never forget the 16 year old girl who came to a health clinic 3 days after they had distributed Days for Girls Dignity kits. She was one of many who traveled there after word got out. The leaders there tell us that she wept when she heard that the kits people were talking about were all gone. She explained that she had been using corn cobs for hygiene in an effort to stay in school and now had such severe infections that scarring had taken place. All because she wanted to learn and have a future. It was in Zimbabwe that Kgotsu taught us that an 11 year old could take the lead and teach her fellow classmates about feminine hygiene and how to make their own. Afterwards she said, "I no longer consider myself an orphan" because now she is a leader. It was in Zimbabwe that a newly trained Days for Girls Ambassador of Women's Health told me, "This is going to change our world."
Your support has made such a difference. We are commited to continuing this important effort. So you can imagine how it pains us to wait to keep the results going. Meanwhile those already doing training and making kits are doing what they can and soon, hopefully very soon, we will be able to get more supplies and support to the team there. When we do, your support will be with us. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, we continue our programs worldwide. Because it's true... dignity can't wait. Thank you for your support in making it all happen.
Linda, the Director of Days for Girls Zimbabwe, kept going despite pain and illness for months, working to do training and distribution of kits for girls and women. And then came the opportunity to go to Germany to seek greater medical care options and to be with her husband. Yes, Linda had left the USA to return to her homeland of Zimbabwe to take Days for Girls to her nation. I don't know about you, but we find that amazing. That she has so much passion that she would move her family-- even when her husband would be leaving for another location.
And an amazing thing happened as she prepared to leave, the other women trained to be Ambassadors of Women's Health (thanks in part to YOU) stepped up and are keeping the program going. The remarkable thing is that they are all volunteering. Something many say is unheard of when they are living in such an impoverished place. They have a passion for ensuring that girls have access to feminine hygiene. They know personally how high the stakes are and they have seen the joy that girls have when they learn about reproductive health, safety and that they can have quality feminine hygiene they can count on month after month.
Currently, the trainers are focusing on reaching groups through schools and churches as they teach women to make their own kits. Most are being done in the Bullawayo district and Lupane district at this time.
The pilot program currently has 8 sewing machines in place. Our next step is to get more sewing machines to the rural team leaders so they can teach girls in their areas how to sew on the machines and the resulting kits will be as durable as they can be.
Local women's groups are focusing on their local areas to save funds, with plans to expand the program to more areas when more fabric is available to them. It is part of the Project Plan for the team to train more local women in the program once there is sufficient funding for more fabric.
Another exciting development is that other schools, nonprofits and even the Minister of Education David Coltart have support for our specific design of kits and hygiene and empowerment training as well as in receiving pad kits for their girls and in eventually expanding the program even more!
The girls benefiting from the program are reporting consistent results - that since they received their kits they now can stay in school. After a full year all of the girls report using their kits consistently, and in four cases, they preferred the washable even when their school had occassional access to disposable, saying that their DfG kits are more comfortable and that disposables have tape that does not hold well and do not work as well.
The team in Zimbabwe and the Days for Girls International team both would like to sincerely offer our gratitude to all of our generous friends through GlobalGiving for helping to sponsor this program. It's working!
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