Days for Girls International

Creating a more dignified, free and educated world through access to lasting feminine hygiene solutions.
Nov 5, 2015

A Business of Her Own - Community Led Solutions

Girls at Rafiki Thabo training in Kabale, Uganda
Girls at Rafiki Thabo training in Kabale, Uganda

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.

Tanzania Training

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.

Seguku Training

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! 

DfG Training in Nyaishoki, Tanzania
DfG Training in Nyaishoki, Tanzania
Christine K
Christine K

Links:

Jun 16, 2015

Trending on Twitter! Big News for Girls and Women

Women training to launch DfG DRC Congo
Women training to launch DfG DRC Congo

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.

Next Steps…

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. 

Days for Girls at Menstrual Hygiene Management Day
Days for Girls at Menstrual Hygiene Management Day
Vihiga Training
Vihiga Training
Days for Girls University Kenya Trainees
Days for Girls University Kenya Trainees

Links:

Mar 16, 2015

Training the Trainers Means More Girls, Women and Communities Reached

Nansana Training
Nansana Training

2015 is off to an exciting start for the Days for Girls team! In addition to all of the amazing growth and activity that is happening among the international network, the Uganda team has been on the move to make sure that we are progressing towards our goal to reach every girl. Every where. Period.

DfG Follow-up Visits

This February marks 1 year since we held our first official Uganda-led partnership training program where we train other organizations to train trainers and conduct their own Days for Girls Program. We’ve had nearly constant training activity since then. One of our huge priorities going forward is to make sure that all of our training programs are measured to ensure they are having the lasting impact that we originally intended. Therefore, we have been busily scheduling follow-up field visits to all of the groups we trained. Our team has been spread out across Northern and Eastern Uganda to check up on our groups and see what has gone well and where they need more support. We will also be collecting surveys during this time and taking testimonials about changes since the project was launched. So far, we’ve visited about 50% of our groups, and the results are pretty exciting! While some groups have faced challenges with getting organized, nearly all of the groups have at least sold soap, many have sold kits, and all have conducted some kind of community outreach about health & hygiene.

DfG & SNV Follow-up Visits

Our follow-up visits with our own program coincide beautifully with our follow-up visits to SNV community groups. Last September, we held a training of trainers program with SNV, the Dutch development organization, and now we are heading out into the field to see how everything is going! The data we have collected so far indicates that all of the target schools have been trained in reproductive health, and many of the trained women’s groups are selling kits. Through this program, we have reached nearly 30,000 girls with information about washable menstrual hygiene kits, and supplied 9,040 girls with enough materials to make a shield, a liner, and a bag. The women’s groups will act as continued access points for the rest of the kit components, and full kits, for years to come.

A visit from Laura Martin

The Uganda team was excited to start off their year with the return of DfG’s intrepid traveller, Laura Martin. Laura has been working as the volunteer International Alliance Liaison, coordinating and visiting with DfG teams throughout East Africa to evaluate progress and needs. Laura kicked off her site visits with the Uganda team, and then traveled onto Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, before returning to the Kampala to say goodbye and head back to the US. Days for Girls measures and evaluates programs regularly so that we can ensure that girls and women are getting the results of more dignity, health and access to opportunity. Laura has now returned to the US full of stories, inspiration, and ideas that will help DfG reach the next level of impact. 

Teacher Selection Meeting

Days for Girls Uganda believes that partnerships are a vital part of creating programs that will having a lasting and meaningful impact. So, we were happy to be invited to exhibit our products and program at the National Student Selection event hosted by the Uganda Ministry of Education. During this event, Secondary School teachers from around Uganda meet to select the students that will move onto the next level. We had many teachers visit our stall to learn more about menstrual hygiene and the important role that it plays in keeping girls in school. We hope to continue talking with these schools and students that can serve as local leaders at their school, so that we can meet the needs of their bright, young students.

Budondo Training

Last October we had the chance to train a group of amazing young students in Budondo village, Iganga District. We were invited back in January of this year to conduct a kit making training with a group of women from Suubi Health Center in Budondo. We carried new sewing machines for the group and spent time teaching them to make our beautiful washable kits. The ladies also learned important reproductive health information, as well as basic business skills that they will use to make and sell these kits in their community.

Nansana Training

In February, we hosted a training close to home in an area of Kampala known as Nansana. There, we met with 8 Secondary School Teachers who were passionate about learning to make kits that they could provide for their students. The teachers engaged in a lively discussion of reproductive health and gender equity, before launching into the hands-on-work of kit making. One of the male teacher participants discovered he had a hidden talent for sewing and was the first one to complete the kit!

Lugazi Training

The trainings continued in February with a women’s group based in Lugazi town, just east of Kampala. This small church group has big plans for menstrual hygiene kits in their community. They completed the business and kit training, and have already started production on their starter pack of materials. They are hoping to develop into a full Days for Girls Enterprise so that they can earn an income for themselves, and also meet the need of so many girls in their community who do not have adequate menstrual hygiene solutions.

Sister Acts Training

Our last training in February brought us a totally new experience – training from our office! Funded by the Sister Acts project, we had two exceptional ladies from Gulu, and two fantastic ladies from Thika, Kenya join us for a weeklong training in our Kampala office. The ladies learned reproductive health, kit making, soap making, and basic business skills. They have since traveled back to their hometowns with their starter packs of materials and they have already started brainstorming potential markets to sell their kits to.

New Office!

Perhaps the biggest change of 2015 so far is our new office. Days for Girls International's first in-country training center for other nations to come train beside us in the field in apprenticeships. DfGI calls it the Days for Girls University in Uganda, but we're not too fancy. It's a humble but effective new location that will create greater self-sufficiency and opportunity to increase our program's accessibility to train even more effectively. The new office space in Kampala will give us more room for our kit production and training programs, and it will also allow us to house volunteers, visitors, and trainees, saving them funds and helping us be more self-sustainable. Creating global entreprenuers who serve as local health leaders. 

Days for Girls at the United Nations 

Days for Girls was just featured at the United Nations Women's Summit this last week as our founder, Celeste Mergens shared our global thought leader standing on the impact of menstrual hygiene managment. Last weekend Days for Girls held it's Global Leadership Summit as a webinar and Days for Girls volunteer chapter leaders from around the world got to hear all of the global impact. From Australia to Ghana, Germany to Anchorage, the reports showed how many girls, women, families and communities Days for Girls International is reaching. 

Thank you!

Thank you for your continued support in making all of these milestones possible as we continue to make tremendous progress towards our mission, every girl. Every women. Everywhere. Period.

Sister Act Training
Sister Act Training
Group photo
Group photo
Group photo
Group photo
 
   

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