How do you know a project is succeeding? When demand and programs keep showing increased results. Big things have been happening in Uganda thanks to all of our Global Giving supporters!
In late March, the Days for Girls Uganda (DfGU) team traveled to Kisiki College in Eastern Uganda to conduct reproductive health training and a large reusable menstrual kit distribution.
In partnership with the school, the DfGU team was able to conduct research on how menstruation is affecting the lives of the female students. At that school 70% of the students interviewed stated that they had missed class as a result of menstruation!
The word cloud below illustrates the students' response to how they feel when they don't have materials to help manage their menstruation. The bigger the word, the more gave that answer.
Thankfully, because of your support, the Days for Girls team was able to distribute reusable menstrual kits to all 653 female students enrolled in Kisiki College.
Thanks to your support, the DfGU team also trained all 1,428 students (both male and female) in reproductive health knowledge. After the training one of the teachers approached the staff to express her gratitude She said that lack of reproductive health knowledge is a big problem throughout Ugandan schools. Students often approach the teachers asking for advice and information regarding the body changes that they're experiencing and how to manage the emotional ups and downs of puberty. She said that, not having received thorough training herself, she felt ill equip to handle such situations. After having gone through the training and receiving a Days for Girls Reproductive Health and Empowerment Manual, the teacher stated that both she and her students are armed with the information that they need to keep themselves safe and healthy..
Defend One Trainings
The Days for Girls Uganda team was able to partner with Defend One, a US based non-profit working in Uganda, to carryout soaping making, reproductive health, and business skills trainings as well as reusable menstrual kit distributions in Iganga and Kamuli Districts.
Training women in how to make soap is an initiative that has impacts on multiple levels. One, the soap that the women make can be used to wash their reusable menstrual pads. Two, increasing access to soap helps communities combat dangerous, communicable illnesses such as cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea. Three, making and selling soap is a great business and can help local women become self-reliant so they can pull themselves out of poverty.
Women who participated in the Kamuli training were particularly appreciative of the opportunity to diversify their income. Days for Girls works primarily with subsistence farmers. A few weeks prior to our training, Kamuli experienced a devastating storm which destroyed most of the women's crops.
"I liked the whole program of Days for Girls because a storm has recently affected this village and we were left with nothing. The coffee was destroyed, the maize has been affected by pests and nothing is growing. Because of the soap training I can have an extra income which will help keep my kids in school." Jennifer M.
Days for Girls both trains women in reproductive health knowledge and encourages mothers to talk to their children about the changes they'll experience as they go through puberty. One woman told us about the impact that understanding menstruation and creating an open dialogue has had on her family.
"I learned how to be clean as a woman and I learned what to teach my children about being clean and hygienic. I've even already started talking to them about it. I've told them about menstruation and how it comes about. I told them about the age that it starts, how it comes and so much. I realized that it was normal for my daughter to have started her menstruation early. I learned that menstruation can come at any age, it does not mean that someone is abnormal."
The team was able to train many women and distribute many kits between the two communities.
We feel so fortunate to be able to create real and tangible impacts in the lives of the women and communities we serve. Thank you for supporting Days for Girls and helping us continue to serve women around the world.
In the past few weeks DfGU has also been creating kits for the Somalian refuge camps in Northern Uganda and continueing to meet the demand for more training for more groups. Kenya has begun to step up their activities to do likewise as they apply the lessons learned in Uganda. Now we are readying to share it with groups around the globe. Thank you for helping make it all possible.This is how together, we can reach every girls, everywhere. Period. But it will take all of us and your support is helping make it happen.
There is so much to report to you about the difference your support has made. Brigham Young University conducted a University Measurement and Evaluation survey. The results confirm what our experiences suggest: Days for Girls empowers women and girls. The survey results are included below in a graph called a “word cloud.” The number of girls who respond with a given word translates into each word’s size in the illustration.
Meanwhile Days for Girls Uganda (DfGU) continues to expand its “training of trainers” programs, helping numerous nonprofits to start their own kit-manufacturing and menstrual health teams, which means a growing number of women are empowered to help their communities access hygiene while boosting their economic potential, thanks to your support. I have attached a few photos of one of the trainings that took place recently at Bishop Angelo Vocational Training School- Aduku, Apac District. Some of the women there shared their personal stories and you can see a few of them and their photos here too:
Here’s what Abur E. recently shared after receiving her kit and training with DfGU at the Vocational school: “…I used to have a lot of difficulties because I'm an orphan so I'm not able to afford pads.... If I had a heavy flow, it could stain my knickers and my clothes. It was really affecting my life because if I was menstruating, I could just hide. I'm appreciating you coming because I've realized that now I will be free and even stay with people if I'm menstruating because I don't have to worry about leaking. I can just stay with people. I will also use the skills that DfG taught in order to earn a living. I will start a business of making and selling reusable menstrual kits in my community and earn money. This will allow me to take care of my siblings... The reusable pads are really important to the women in the village where I stay because most women don't have money to buy pads… I appreciate you coming a lot because it's given me hope for the future. I had lost hope, thinking that I wouldn't be able to do anything but now I have hope for the future again.”
Akullu S. is 21 and she said, “I always use clothes or toilet tissue… Some materials can cause burning and hurt me so much. These ones weren't good but because of problems I had no options. I would use it but wouldn't be comfortable in the public. I would always be standing because if I sit down I might get stains. Now I'm very happy because of the skills that I got in making reusable pads. Now if I'm in my menses I'm safe and secure because I know that even if I go in public I won't have stains in my cloths. Secondly, I used to be so worried if I was about to get my menstruation because I wasn't sure where I would get the money for toilet tissue but now I'm happy because I know I'm safe because I know that I have a reusable menstrual kit that I can use for three years. “
Amuge F. is 17 and she writes, “I appreciate Days for Girls coming here. For me I used to use pads but I used to have a lot of burning because I have my menstruation for one week. I would use the pads from morning up to evening because the pads are very expensive and I can't afford to change them more often. By the time I finished my menstruation I would have painful burns and wouldn't even want to move. When I go to school my family gives me two packets of pads but I use one full pack in a month because my period lasts for long. I run out and then have to use clothe. I don't know how to fold the clothe[s] well so I fear that if I'm moving, it can fall out. It causes me a lot of anxiety because I fear that it will fall. I'm really very excited about the DfG training in reusable pads. I'm happy to have a reusable pad that I don't have concerns about because the other disposable pads that I used to use were also not reliable, they could slip off over time. With these ones I am confident that they won't slip out because they have a snap.
When I'm at home sometimes they send us for water with a bicycle. Riding a bicycle can cause the cloth I used before to go out of place and fall out. With these reusable menstrual pads I'm confident that they won't fall out because of the snaps that hold them in place.
Days for Girls reusable pads are so good. I'm really happy to know how to make the pads. I'm so blessed because Days for Girls came.”
These miracles are possible because of your support. I hope you truly recognize your important part in this. We do. None of this would happen without your help.
You sent support and Linda Guhza bought flannel for liners and sheeting fabric for the shields. Among the beneficiaries was Mind the Gap, a Zimbabwean nonprofit to help with their ongoing efforts to raise awareness among the girls and to have supplies they need. We also visited Elitsheni women’s group to train more girls in their area.
Lupane: Another bolt of PUL (Polyeurothane Laminate, the special moisture barrier fabric that keeps shields from leaking through) was sent to Lupane as they are progressing very well and they have managed to secure more funding from other NGOs as well and they are currently supporting and training more than 27 schools in the district and training more than 30 women.
At Zvishavane: Mhandamabwe High School more students we supplied pads in Zvishavane are now regularly attending classes even when they are experiencing their monthly periods. We are working very hard to keep sanitation improved in Mhandamabwe High school by providing water facilities and clean washing facilities for the girl’s toilets with the help of the village service chiefs and local member of parliaments. The head teacher at the school where the sanitary pad project is being implemented said, "This makes school, girl friendly, thus reducing the level of absenteeism for the girl child."
A Remind School : As this is a rehabilitation center there are always new girls at the facility all the time and we need to expand and improve our efforts. We are still in the process of assessing whether it will be viable to establish a continuous program at the facility and maybe have a DFG ambassador go there about once a month. Our continuous training and engagement will have a tremendous impact from what we are learning. This year we intend to expand our efforts here.
New Ground: We would like to expand our activities this year by sending 300 pads in Shurugwi district by end of September as we have identified 3 potential schools that are in dire need.We are also treading carefully to engage more schools as new schools keep on requesting our services and training but we have to have the resources for each before committing to them.
Thank you for helping us reach more girls. Please tell others about these important projects. We can reach more with your help.