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!
Big News for Girls!
Trending on Twitter: On May 28th an amazing thing happened: The hashtag #MenstruationMatters trended on Twitter. Seriously it did! It was the third UN International Menstruation Hygiene Day! Yes, there is such a thing. You know why that matters so much. YOU'RE voice has been part of the rise in awareness. Thank you!
Days for Girls was just named as one of the Next Ten by Hufington Post! In honor of their 10th Anniversary they featured ten "causes where we believe meaningful strides can be made in the coming decade." We were overjoyed to have that exposure which will add up to even more heroes like you knowing how lifting women and girls lifts entire nations.
And speaking of meaningful strides, our first class of participants for our new Days for Girls University program (3 weeks of intensive training and mentoring to be able to start and maintain strong local Days for Girls Enterprises came from Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), via Maman Shujaa, an incredible community organization founded by the amazing activist, Neema N.Funded by the GO Campaign, Esperance, Sylvie, and Moza were able to join us for a full three-weeks to attend Days for Girls University. Days for Girls University is an innovative new Days for Girls program that incorporates reproductive health training, kit making and soap making sessions, and entrepreneurship and community mobilization modules into an intensive two-week program, hosted right in our Kampala office. By the end of the training, the participants have gained the critical skills needed to launch their own Days for Girls Enterprise in their home community. They also receive an “Enterprise in a Box”, which includes a tremendous amount of raw materials needed to make menstrual hygiene kits, liquid soap, bar soap, t-shirts, aprons, banners, and complementary products that the participants can sell. Thje costs to sponsor the women was $1500 for the boxed resources and templates, three weeks of training and even food and lodgings. And they leave with the resources, confidence and know-how to get things going quickly. The ladies have since returned to Bukavu to pursue their Days for Girls Enterprise goals. We are so excited to see what they will accomplish!
Vihiga Training Program
At the end of Days for Girls University, we were feeling both tired and invigorated! We were inspired by the great lengths that our Bukavu team went to in order to attend our program, and then it was our turn to travel! Three of our team members boarded the bus to Vihiga, Kenya to train a wonderful community organization called MACODEF. We were hosted by the wonderful founder, Joyce, in her home. We trained 488 secondary school students (all girls!) in reproductive health and menstrual hygiene. The girls were incredibly attentive and when we gave them a final quiz at the end of the session, they passed with flying colors. After completing that component of the program, we trained 6 tailors from Vihiga to make the kits and left them with enough materials to sew 488 full kits! They caught on very quickly and were excited to distribute the kits to the students upon completion.
Menstrual Hygiene Kit Logistics
From Kisumu, our team separated temporarily. Two members traveled onto Nairobi to arrange the transport of our flannel order from Sun Flag factory. During this trip, we were able to create a partnership with local bus company, Panther, to be coordinating these fabric pick ups in the future. The third member of our team retured to Kampala to meet with other local washable pad manufacturers to find a way for creating a standard for washable hygiene kits. Currenly, the Uganda Bureau of Standards does not have a specific standard in place for the regulation of washable pads, and so we have joined together with members of the National Menstrual Hygiene Steering Committee to come up with a proposal. We hope to set the wheels in motion for the creation of a standard before the end of 2015!
SuSanA Meeting & AfricaSan 4
Just as soon as the team was reunited fully in our office, our Uganda Country Director, Libby, was back on the road again! Libby traveled to Dakar, Senegal to attend the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) members meeting and the three-day AfricaSan 4 conference, which brought together some of the biggest players in the field of WASH from across Africa (and the world!). The conference covered so many topics from sanitation marketing to community led total sanitation achievements to innovative WASH technologies and so many others. It was an incredibly fruitful and jam-packed three-days.
Menstrual Hygiene Day 2015
As soon as the conference ended, yet another gathering of menstrual hygiene stakeholders took place in Kampala for celebration of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2015. The day began with a MH walk to Parliament where the Menstrual Hygiene Charter was introduced by the Uganda Speaker and signed by the many stakeholders involved with the National Menstrual Hygiene Steering Committee (including Days for Girls!). After the signing and corresponding press conference, many people gathered at the National Theater for program & product exhibitions, performances, and socializing for those interested in menstrual hygiene. It was a great chance to see what has been going on in the field of menstrual hygiene in Uganda and also share our kits from Days for Girls.
Days for Girls Univesity, Round Two!
With so many high level events and learning opportunities, it was about time to get back into the nitty gritty of our Days for Girls work. On June 8th, we kicked off the second class of Days for Girls University with two incredible women from Mount Kenya, Kenya Health Care Initiatives. In addition, we invited high-achieving participants from previous Days for Girls trainings to join in on specific lessons during the two-week session, as a refresher to keep their Days for Girls Enterprise skills sharp. Anna Okullo of Naguru Hope for Women, and Lydia Sanyu of Budondo Women’s Group, were excited to join in and share learnings throughout the program.
It’s hard to believe we’re nearly half way through 2015, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun. It’s been a great year so far full of learning, planning, and making connections. As we progress through 2015, we’re excited to implement more intensive monitoring & evaluation efforts with the help of our four incredible summer interns, visiting us from the US. We hope to learn more about our efforts and impact through process evaluation strategies and programmatic surveys so that we can continue to improve and expand our programs to reach every girl. Everywhere. Period. We'll keep you in the loop.