Today March 8, 2016 as we commemorate The International Women's Day, we are privy to the 2016 theme #PledgeForParity! as we pledge for further action we are glad for what we have already contributed to make the world a better place for young women in need of menstrual supplies and all this was because of your support.
We can brag and walk head high for reached a milestone, in February 2016 we achieved the 1000 girls mark that we have provided with re-usable, washable, 100% eco-friendly sanitary kits. This kits are long lasting hence ensuring dignity and comfort for two to three years. By keeping girls during their periods we ensure academically they compete on a level field with boys and even more interestingly, they are able to compete in sporting activities...as defined by one beneficiary she coined it 'Total Freedom'.
On a diffrent note, we are very glad that our project manager James Waruiru has been selected in the Acumen East Africa Fellowship class of 2016. He made it through a very tough selection process of thousands applicants from seven countries in East Africa region. We are sure he will pass on the knowledge and skills he will earn over the leadership transformational year to our entire team. Our prayers of good will are with James as he embark on this journey.
As we embark on a year full of dreams and vision, our major goal this year is to establish a large sewing centre where we will make re-usable sanitary napkis locally. we have already undetaken a successful pilot and produced awesome kits locally, but we only have one operational sewing machine. We are also able to source all materials locally but we are greatly faced by funding shortage as a hurdle, we therefore seek your support to enable us have a local sewing centre so as to reach more needy women.
We are thinking of a high-breed model (commercial/charity). Because our beneficiaries are very poor to afford buying kits themselves, we will have a commercial arm in the project that will source funds from donors and local county governments then buy kits from the project and have our charity arm distribute to needy girls for free. This way we will increase local ownership of the project and ensure sustainability. We therefore seek your financial support, help in fundraising and all advice that will help us towards realizing an even greator milestone.
Please receive greetings from Fountain of Hope Youth Initiative in Kenya. We are delighted for this opportunity to bring you up to speed on the progress of our project which without your support could be wanting.
While doing all we can to meet menstrual hygiene needs of needy sisters in our community, we are appalled by the fact that there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the issue of menstruation not only in our community but globally. Even in rich countries there is still a lot of stigma on menstruation, although they use some jargon like 'Crimson flow', 'on the rag', 'ride the cotton pony', 'shark week', 'women trouble', 'when the moon is red' etc. While some of these words and expressions sound funny for instance 'have the painters in' and 'Congratulations! It’s an egg!', some words are however very demeaning to women and seek to portray menstruation as a negative thing while it is a normal biological process that all healthy women go through, some of the most demeaning words we have come across are words like BV which is an acronym of 'Bloody Vagina', Drainage, Leaking, in the abyss, potential murder suspect and Dracula's tea bag referring to tampons and sanitary pads. (Read more here http://www.mum.org/words.html)
In Kenya we do not have a published list on the words and phrases used for menstruation but in our everyday language this issue has been expressed with derogatory and demeaning language, most of the time it is tantamount to verbal abuse on women. It is saddening that in 21st Century our women not only have to deal with menstrual hygiene needs but also endure the stigma on menstruation. Some religions still consider women unclean while menstruating and therefore not allowed to mingle with 'clean' people freely. Let me pose a question for you; ever thought of why Muslim women do not worship together with men? Or why in some churches there are pews on this side for men and that side for women? This is gender stereotyping that need to be addressed.
At Fountain of Hope we do not just stop at providing for menstrual needs but we have started a new vibrant campaign to end stigma on menstruation. Led by our project leader, James Waruiru, we have started a campaign dabbed 'from Men to Men end stigma on menstruation' we also have motto on this issue, we say and believe that 'No Menstruation, No Life'. This campaign seek to engage men to be more involved in meeting menstrual hygiene needs and end stigma on menstruation. This is not just a local campaign; locally we want to engage more people though participatory sessions where we will provoke open discussions on menstruation and take this campaign wider though social media and blogs. We invite you to follow us on Medium.com where we will be posting more stories on menstruation, Follow us on Twitter and Like our facebook page to stay tuned and also voice your thoughts to this noble cause. We also appeal for more donation as this is an expensive venture but worth every penny. We also invite you to watch this short video to learn more about our work.
Please receive love greetings from Kiambu County, Kenya. It is a great pleasure to communicate with you again, We know how demanding life is and so we will be very brief in giving you some updates about our project which will not be impact-full without your generous support, we not only appreciate your financial support but your moral support and approval as well which is the fuel that keeps our small but dedicated team going…so thank you…!
Most of the time when we send you updates we focus more on numbers of beneficiaries and new geographic locations that we venture in but we sometime fail to tell you how much your every cent mean to hundreds of our beneficiaries and us. I recently read an article from a UK online feminist magazine. http://tinyurl.com/omwqouw The head of this article alone is enough to freak the hell out of the reader, ‘’ For Homeless Women, Having a Period Isn't a Hassle – It's a Nightmare’’. This made me pity the poor homeless women of Britain but it also made me think how bad the predicament is for women in sub-Saharan Africa. Maybe you can picture the scenario with me, UK being first world but still faced by this need, in my community it is even worse, many young women cannot access even used rags or cotton wool and so when menstruating they improvise with chicken feathers, re-cycle rags, and in some very remote villages even leaves and paper.
We are sharing this because today we want to centralize our report on our benefactors, we want you to know that your dollar goes a long way to bring dignity to our beneficiaries, keep them is school during their periods and enable them engage in extra-curricular activities and thus why we call this report ‘Dignity, Learning & Play; Coming out of Cocoon’ coz yes that is what we do together with you, bringing these poor women out of cocoons where many shell in themselves during their periods.
We currently support 833 young women with re-usable, washable towels that are 100% bio-degradable hence very eco-friendly. We have further almost 100 who experience slight side effects with re-usable towels so we give them disposable towels. Through our simple surveys we can report that re-usable towels are not only cool to our environment but are also sustainable because they are cost-effective. We have started a small sewing centre in Kenya with only 2 sewing machines to make re-usable pads but our capacity is minimized by lack of enough sewing machines, materials and stipends to keep our workers running and this is why we reach to you pleading for your support. If you are in USA or Europe and you want to collect material support and ship to us, we welcome that very much, just get in-touch with us and we can try and link you to friends who travel here and they can carry the donations as personal luggage.
We have entered the 2015 Outside of the Box prize, we won second prize from this global competition in 2010, we seek your prayers to scoop the number one slot this year, we will keep you updates in-case we reach the voting stage where we will need you as much to vote for us online. We also welcome ideas, help in fund-raising, publicist and even positive criticism.
To conclude, when all is said and done, there is only one thing that matters, Holy Bible James 1:27, we seek to practice the good religion before God the Father which taking care of the needy and we and you are partners in this and so we pray God’s blessing on you for supporting this work. Again THANK YOU…!
Please receive love greetings from Kiambu County in Kenya, East Africa. This is just a short report to update you on how we are using your donations and the impact of the project to our beneficiaries. We are glad to have you in our team and for your continued support.
Recently we went to collect testimonies from our beneficiaries in one nearby school, we had gone to meet the girls in preparation of this report. The reception from the girls was hilarious, all were happy to meet our team and tell of impact stories of how this project has changed their lives for the better….one girl called Mary told us besides her academic grades rising she was also the girl’s athletics team captain that won the junior championship in 2014. All this she attributed to this program because she is able to stay in class during her menstrual periods and as well engage in extra-curricular activities and now she felt motivated to pursue her dream of becoming a professional runner and emulate many Kenyan runners who are known to be record breakers in long races world over.
However in the midst of this joyous atmosphere the boys from the same school were not happy because of our visit, shockingly they yelled at us and threw objects at us, so we wondered…why…? We decided to find out from one lad named John who told us the boys were not happy because we give girls sanitary towels who dispose used napkins everywhere, he reported to us that he once stumbled on a used...bloody napkin on the play ground a thing that disgusted him and his peers so badly...we could read displeasure from his tone and facial expresion...
This incident led us to dig deeper on the effects of bad disposal of menstrual waste in our community. The findings were shocking. On a larger picture we learnt that an average woman will throw away 10-15,000 pads and applicators in her lifetime. Most of these will be sent to landfill sites or via sewage treatment plants will be sent out into our oceans, potentially damaging marine life and washing up on beaches, lakes and rivers.
Excerpt from The Plastic Sea by Paul Watson.
“A June 2006 United Nations environmental program report estimated that there are an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic debris floating on or near the surface of every square mile of ocean. (Read more at http://lunapads.com/why-switch)
Excerpt from American Petroleum Institute
According to the American Petroleum Institute, 3.5 billion gallons of oil were used to produce the 18 million throwaway diapers and pads that Lehrburger studied in 1991. Approximately 7 billion gallons of oil each year are required to feed our disposable-diaper/pads habit today, almost four times as much oil as is estimated to be in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 1991, the Landbank Consultancy, an independent environmental agency in the United Kingdom, reviewed and evaluated the available research on the environmental impact of throwaway pads. Their conclusion: compared to cloth napkins, throwaway towels use 20 times more raw materials, three times more energy, and twice as much water; they generate 60 times more waste.”
Orther compelling reasons to start making reusable towels were affordability, according to http://www.pinkrobin.co.uk/shop/faqs.php#2 in an average year a woman spends around a minimum of 133 US$ (12,000 shillings) on disposable sanitary towels or tampons while the reusable kit would cost around 10$ or less and can last to 2 years or more if properly washed.
Health reasons - Some disposable pads contain latex (to make the plastic soft), dioxins (a carcinogen left from the bleaching process), sodium polyacrylate crystals (Super-absorbent crystals, which are known to be a skin irritant). Many women have no problems with this, but some have reactions ranging from mild to extreme irritation. Many women are not even aware that their symptoms are being caused by the use of their disposables. Disposable pads can contribute to yeast infections due to the pads creating a moist environment. Tampons can dry out the vagina, which can lead to irritation and change the pH balance, which in turn can cause thrush. Rayon tampons also carry the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a potentially life threatening problem. Cloth pads can help combat thrush in some women as they can keep the area more cool and dry. The organic cotton pads we propose to produce are able to limit the amount of chemical exposure.
We now therefore have strong resolve to start a sewing centre where we will start to make reusable, washable sanitary napkins. We hope the project will as well employ several poor women and youths in production and distribution. We have several pledges for support and our own county government has pledged to buy kits from us once we begin producing to supplement what we will give out as charity.
We are reaching to you for support, critique and advice. This far we would not have reached without you donations. Starting with only one girl in 2007 and now providing for over 1000 girls is a milestone we have reached together. We are planning to have a project page on global giving to raise funds exclusively for sewing centre and once it is approved and live on Global Giving we will send you the link and seek your support.
Again on behalf of our entire team and the beneficiaries…we want to say “THANK YOU”
We are sending our greetings and some updates with great excitement and gratitude to you friend for your donations towards our project and yet again to global giving for connecting us to you and many peers across the globe where we have continued to learn from one another and draw inspiration. That said, more specifically it is your kind giving heart that despite this economically tough current period you have continued to believe in our vision. Thank you…!
Here is our most recent report. Uniquely in this report we want to share some mistakes or failures we did that has hampered us from reaching our desired outcome. We seek your mercies but it is actually these failures that we are learning from and we are very positive the failures will shape our project for the best. To be precise we are embracing our failures and learning from them and we are making great strides from lessons learnt from the same weaknesses.
(i) First as you know we have been giving the girls reusable, washable sanitary towels that are donated to us from foreign friends and we use your cash donation to buy panties for girls and logistics. Little did we care much to spare some cash to buy some disposable sanitary towels for a few girls who have issues with reusable sanitary towels. When we took a survey from beneficiaries some girls (about 10%) complained the the reusable ones are heavy, not good on them etc, we were quick to dismiss them as unappreciative instead of wanting to find out why their sentiments were different from the rest. So recently one of our team member, Grace, who is also an elderly woman called the few girls who had issues to her home and she spoke to them in a small group. Here these girls told her their problems, some found the reusable kits heavy, and others were ok with the reusable but were too poor to get soap for cleaning while a few others got skin rashes on their private parts when they use reusable towels.
All these have led us to learn so much and made some resolutions that will enable us serve these girls better. First we resolved we must set aside some funds to buy disposable sanitary towels for those who can’t use reusable towels. For those who complained lack of soap for cleaning we have made resolution to provide the girls with soap more regularly. For those who complains about skin rashes we consulted some medical practitioners for best opinion and they think the towels we give are good enough but when it comes to cleaning it is not well done, either it is not washed well with soap or it does not dry well. To address this we have resolved to give the girls a bottle of antiseptic like dettol to put a few drop in cleaning water to kill any germs and to let the towels dry properly. The preliminary reports suggest we are gaining ground and eliminating these problems. Also our team resolved there will be at all times disposable pads for those with issues with reusable towels, no one will be coerced to use reusable kits. That said it is good to note still reusable kits works best for about 85% of the beneficiaries and are very friendly to our environment.
(ii) Our second failure or challenge is this, from our last report we noted to you our gain in provoking an open discussion and open mindedness on issue of menstruation, breaking the stigma surrounding the menstruation issue and involve the fathers (men) in the discussion and in providing for menstruation needs as an obligation. While this is true we realized we continued to use more women to address men on this issue, only one man from our team was actively involved, James our project leader and himself being a young man it is still a tall order culturally to address older men on such issue.
While we are still treating this as a challenge we have to admit we have not yet completely delt with this challenge but to speak the least we have a plan in place to recruit a few older men whom we will train and then they can address the issue. We think the best persons will be pastors or spiritual leaders who already command some respect from the community and have men’s audience in daily encounter either through the church or other social gatherings. So far we have one pastor we are training and we hope to recruit more men. We will be keeping you very informed on development on this issue and we as well ask and welcome your thoughts or advice. Please feel free to engage with us.
(iii) As we are in the mood of confession of our weaknesses we want to note this, from our past reports we told you our future plan that will enable us benefit more girls and women will be to set up a sewing center that will make reusable, washable towels and kits. Yet we did not give you more information why this viable and timely. We never mentioned to you our own contribution to this project and many pledges of support from many county governments that have committed to buy kits from our project once we begin producing them so as to supplement what we will be giving out as charity. This will also ensure sustainability of the project. Please find attached one page executive summary that summarizes why we must undertake this project and how much it will impact more lives. Also find attached a one page budget to give an idea of funds we seek to bring this project to life. We also kindly seek your help to fund-raise for this cause, feel free to share this with your circles and dont hessitate to write to us incase you require more information. We will also gladly send you the full proposal upon request. Thank you and may God bless you.
From: FOHLC Team
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