January 16-30, 2015, we held our first distributions and awareness sessions with women in Lebanon. We distributed 120 kits to women and girls in Tyre and Saida, and we held a sewing class for 18 women in Tyre to learn how to sew the DfG shield and liner. Your support was so important to get us started on this journey!
January 20: Saida, Lebanon: In partnership with Bussma Community Center and Mercy Corps Lebanon, we conducted two awareness sessions for a total of 33 mothers and 27 daughters. The mothers' group was very enthusiastic about the DfG kit and gave us very positive feedback regarding the use of them in their community. They were especially interested in learning how to sew the shields and extra liners for themselves and others.
The teenage girls were leary at first of the concept of washable pads, but after a full explanation, they were as excited as their mothers. They told us that when disposable pads are not available, they fold washcloths to use as pads, but the DfG shield will be much more protective and give them more security from leaks and/or staining than cloths. Disposable pads are readily available in their community, but they felt that the cloth pads would be a great alterative and save their families a lot of money. One girl put it simply, "These are a really good idea." We also had a brief discussion regarding menstrual hygiene. The girls shared many misconceptions, one being that they were not supposed to bathe during their periods, and we explained more fully the biology of menstruation and why these sort of myths are untrue.
January 21: Tyre, Lebanon: Again partnering with Mercy Corps Lebanon and Bussma Community Center, we held two sessions for mothers and teenage girls. The girls in Saida had been very positive about the kits, but they were also quite shy. We found the opposite personalities in Tyre! The mothers were much like the women in Saida- very interested and supportive about the kits. The girls, however, were EXTREMELY enthusiastic about both the kits and the curriculum! And even more wonderful, they had no misconceptions about their periods or the biology of menstruation. These young women would make great Days for Girls Ambassadors of Women's Health. We spoke with them about the training, and several were interested in learning more and being a voice for girls in their communities. This is one area we would like to pursue further and plan to use our funding to return to Tyre in April to meet with the girls again. Girls teaching other girls-- how awesome is that!?
January 23: Tyre, Lebanon: The mothers from our awareness session returned, along with others, for a sewing course. We had prepared pre-cut shield and liner pieces, and each of the 18 women were able to finish completely one DfG shield and 3 DfG absorbent liners. Bussma Community Center has a dedicated sewing room with two industrial machines. We are eager to return to Tyre and do an extended training session to include micro-enterprise training. Our funding will allow us to purchase several items to get a new enterprise up-and-running.
We will be returning to Lebanon in April to conduct follow-up sessions with the women and girls, distribute more Days for Girls kits (this time in Bekaa Valley), teach an extended sewing and Ambassador of Women's Health course in Tyre, and do further research on sourcing fabrics in Lebanon for a micro-enterprise.
We have a quick first report to share with our supporters... Days for Girls Lebanon has partnered with a local NGO in Beirut to get 250 kits to women and girls in the Shatila Refugee Camp. They have agreed to schedule sessions for us to present DfG Kits to small groups, giving us the opportunity to connect with the women and give a more thorough, detailed session regarding menstruation and the care and use of DfG kits.
There is also an exisitng sewing cooperative in place that we will be presenting to in the hopes of forming a partnership where we will supply their volunteers with the necessary fabrics and equipment to create Days for Girls kits in Beirut! This would greatly extend our reach, and we are so happy to be on the path to fulfilling our goals for Days for Girls Lebanon.
Meet Christine K. of Kenya recently completed training to launch her own Days for Girls Enterprise in Kenya. She says, “I'm glad I went. My life was never the same. I loved the training…. Now I have three enterprises: Butere, Masai Mara, and Zariel [and I’m] an Ambassador for Days for Girls… to keep girls in school with Days for Girls Kits. I had no one to protect me… (Her full story is honest, frank and graphic. The link is below), but now as Days for Girls Zariel Enterprise I stand for girls. I’m so proud of what my purpose in life is. My gratitude goes to all who made it possible.” That would be supporters like YOU making Days for Girls kits and training available.
What if Days for Girls could empower women like Christine everywhere? Days for Girls Uganda has been answering that question with action.
It’s a good thing the Uganda team never gets tired of traveling to reach more girls, women and trainers. Two of our team members also traveled to Nyaishozi, a rural community in north-western Tanzania, to conduct a health and kit making training for girls. In total, the team trained 150 girls to make their own Days for Girls Kits, and the participants also received a pre-made kit to complete their pack. Though the language barrier was tough (Tanzania is predominantly Swahili speaking, while Uganda is English speaking), the team was able to prevail with the help of translators and passionate students. Such training has been happening for DRC Congo, Mozambique and more.
The Days for Girls Uganda team trained of a small group of girls in Seguku, Uganda. The team spent a few days training in women’s health and kit making, and the girls all successfully made their kits. To our surprise, we learned a few days later that all of the girls had been able to sell the kits they made almost immediately; showing incredible business acumen in the group and interest in the community. This group is scheduled to attend Days fro Girls University in January 2016 to build on their business knowledge and create a clear business plan for their Days for Girls Enterprise.
We won! SEED Africa, Gender Equality Award & Workshop
In September, Days for Girls Uganda won two SEED Africa Awards for Gender Equality hosted by Adelphi and UN Women because of the proven difference this program is making and the award comes with support to make it even better.
Creating a small business is not an easy task, especially when the business is based in a low-income community, and even more so when the women are selling a new kind of product. So our trained Days for Girls Enterprises have the added challenge of providing education and awareness to their potential customer base about the environmental, economic, and health benefits of washable pads that work well.
That’s our report. A whole lot of good… thanks to you!