Sunday, November 3, 2019

NOVEMBER 2019

LESS THAN A DOLLAR A DAY

Think about the fact that millions of females of menstruating age live on less than a dollar a day.  It's not hard to figure out whether their families would choose to spend several of those dollars each month on menstrual supplies. In hopes of carrying on something close to a normal life during their period each month, many girls and women living in poverty try to make do with anything they hope might be at least somewhat absorbent--cardboard, newspaper, rags, mattress stuffing, corn husks, leaves, etc., but many of these items cause them infections.  And, of course they limit their activity and movement.  

And then along comes Days for Girls, with our solution of washable kits that should last 3-4 years.  In the poorest parts of the world, these kits are given free of charge to the girls and women, along with our Ambassador of Women's Health education (on anatomy, reproduction, hygiene, self-defense and kit care).  Many nonprofits distribute beautiful, life-changing DFG kits they buy from the in-country Enterprises, or request them from chapters and teams like ours (we hope with a donation to help with our expenses).  All of a sudden the new kit owners are not losing five days a month!  With the shields snapped in place, their movement isn't limited--they can run, jump rope, dance, work, go to school, etc.  

If you get or got a chance to watch the video of a distribution posted on Facebook by the vivacious Alice Wambui Mwangi last month, you'll see how the girls in her audience were so delighted when she did all sorts of moves, and the panties holding a shield and liner she had put on over her leggings were staying put.  Alice doesn't limit her Facebook to FB friends, so you can watch it on her page, or if you're a FB friend of mine, it's on my page too.  Alice welcomes you to friend her--she currently has over 3900 FB friends, which means so many people can see what an amazing force she is for Days for Girls!

If there's a Days for Girls Enterprise near where they live, women and girls can save up to buy additional or replacement components and purchase those locally, one by one as needed.  In addition to the convenience, this provides an opportunity to local women earn an income.

Every hour or dollar you spend helping us with our kits is changing lives.  I love seeing videos and photos of distributions and girls holding up their new kits.  Such delight on those faces!  And, I'm very proud of how absolutely beautiful and perfect the kits are that we're turning out here in Lane County!  One person who distributed our kits in Africa said some of the girls expressed amazement that strangers on the other side of the world would make such beautiful kits just for them.  They just might be surprised to learn of the joy it brings us!


AND IN THE USA--NATIONAL PERIOD DAY COVERAGE

Chapter and Team leaders receive a monthly newsletter from our Chapter Liaison person.  This month's (below) has links to coverage of some National Period Day events held on October 19.  I hope these rallies brought needed attention to the unfairness of taxing tampons and pads.  Thirty-five states still levy a sales tax on them.   Oh, and food stamps and Medicaid funds cannot used for menstrual supplies. Did somebody say Period Equity

But, happily, a few cities and states now require that pads/tampons be provided free in all public schools, prisons and homeless shelters.  Just like toilet paper is.  And some institutions are doing that on their own, just because it's the right thing to do.

Interested in seeing more  from National Period Day?
Watch DfG US Northeast Regional Rep Leslie Roy's speech in PA HERE ((and others)
Watch DfG Board Member Clarice Chan speech HERE
Read an article published in the Salt Lake Tribune about The Utah Rally HERE

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this is certainly the case for US National Period Day. Here are some highlights from DfG volunteers' involvement throughout the US!
             

             

             

             

             

             


AN UNDERGROUND CLUB

At work, have you ever hidden a tampon in your sleeve before walking to the bathroom?  Been embarrassed to buy menstrual products when the cashier was a male?  Read this article!

I remember the first time I spoke to the Springfield Lions, I said something like, "If somebody had told me that 20 years after menopause I'd be speaking to groups about menstruation, I wouldn't have believed them."  

It's amazing to me that something that is a normal part of life for half of the world's population has any sense of embarrassment attached to it!  I think great strides have been made in just the past few years to address that issue.  But, we have a long ways to go!  Thank you for your work and for talking openly about menstruation and Days for Girls.  

HAPPY 11TH BIRTHDAY,  DAYS FOR GIRLS!


November 1, 2008 is the date Days for Girls International was formed by Celeste Mergens.  Since then, so many concerned and caring people have been working together to provide kits and improve the lives of women in the poorest parts of the world--there are 910 teams and chapters with over 6000 volunteers.  

Over 1.5 million of our DfG kits have gone to 141 countries in Africa (55%), Asia (22%), Latin America (16%) and elsewhere, each delivered with a fun presentation of anatomy, reproduction, hygiene, self defense, and kit care education.  Quite an accomplishment in such a short period of time!

We celebrated this birthday Saturday with an amazing, beautiful, ultra-rich Chocolate Orgasm cake from Sweet Life Patisserie




We had a good turnout and made much progress on our kit components.  Our volunteers are a fun and caring group--many former strangers are now good friends outside of our workdays, and I think we all look forward to the social aspect as much as to what we accomplish.  A few stayed all day, most for just what hours worked best for them.  If you haven't joined us yet, I hope you can make it sometime in 2020.  As usual, I apologize for not getting everybody in a photo.  We had well over 20 volunteers yesterday.  I thank them all!  Here are my woefully amateur shots from the day, showing just some of the volunteers, fun and varied tasks/steps we worked on.











WHEN IS OUR NEXT WORKDAY?

As posted earlier, we will not meet the first Saturday in December, as Our  Sewing Room is holding a special event for their members that day.

If we have a request come up and we need to get together to work on that before January, I'll post that here and send an email to those of you on our mailing list.  

Otherwise, enjoy the holiday season, and I hope to see you January 4th.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

NOVEMBER 2 CELEBRATION

CAN YOU JOIN US?

This Saturday, November 2, is our regular monthly workday.  But, we're also celebrating a couple of birthdays.  First of all, my mother would have been 100 on Saturday.  Second, on Friday, Days for Girls International marks its 11th birthday.  There will be a cake from Sweet Life Patisserie.  We'll have lots of components to work on, and great volunteers to chat with.  Can you join us?  Can you bring a present?  Our wish list is in the October 4th post.  Any/all supplies (or monetary donations) are very welcome, but what we seem to need the most right now is underwear (scroll down to We Are Not Ovaryacting for details).  

If you're available to join us Saturday, please let me know.  If you're on our email list, just reply to the meeting reminder I send out.  

And please be aware that we will NOT meet on December 7, as Our Sewing Room has a special member event occurring that day.

KENYA RENEGES

In 2017 the Kenyan government promised to provide pads/tampons for girls so the lack of such supplies wouldn't be a barrier to attending school.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  Now, the head of the Education Ministry reports that there are only funds for four months.  This year, they're hoping to have supplies for girls during the testing period, but it looks like perhaps only certain counties will receive those.  Interesting article.  Those funds would go a long way if they bought each girl a Days for Girls kit--and thousands of Kenyans already have them!  Our kits last 3 years or more, with proper care.


MORE ON NEPAL

I've posted before about the harsh treatment of menstruating girls and women in many areas of Nepal.  Chhaupadi was banned in 2005 and since 2017 anyone forcing women into chhaupadi faces a fine or 3 months in jail, but in many areas it continues.  Enjoy this comprehensive article in the Washington Post.


ZAMBIA

Here's an article about reusable pads and school attendance of impoverished girls in Zambia.  There are links at the end to related articles about girls in Malawi, Kenya and Uganda.

DAYS FOR GIRLS VIDEOS


On daysforgirls.org, you can find a link to official videos under the "About Us" heading on the main page.  And if you go on YouTube and search for Days for Girls,  you'll probably find enough videos to enjoy for quite a while.  Keep in mind that the ones on YouTube are not official, and (especially any kit-making directions) are often out of date.  

But, there are many heart-warming, informational videos.  Here's one  from a couple of years ago to start with.  After I showed this one to a group of female teens in Eugene, one said, "I will never complain about my period again!" Grab a cup of coffee, then go to YouTube or to the Days for Girls website links above.  Lots of choices, long and short, including founder Celeste Mergen's Ted talk, in which she shares how this all got started.

A SCHOOL IN TANZANIA


A few years ago, I had a 9:00 am appointment with my new primary care physician.  In chatting to get acquainted,  I told her about my involvement with Days for Girls.  She told me that her 8:30 appointment (also a first-time) patient had set up a school in Tanzania, and we might want to touch bases.  I gave her my card and said I'd welcome contact from that woman.  Juliette, a retired educator, did indeed contact me, and told me about Shikabania, the school she had set up in Tanzania, where students are taught in English from PreK on up.   Previously, students in that area weren't able to attend secondary school, because it was taught in English and their lower level schools weren't.  Her results are amazing.  I just received a report from them, and urge you to read it (below) and support them (Shikabania is the nonprofit) if you can (your donation will be matched!).  Such positive results can occur when you provide what is needed.  Kids completing their education at Shikabania now have the English fluency needed to attend secondary school.

Juliette and I got together 3-4 times before she moved from Drain to California last year, to be closer to family.  I sent shields for the girls and teachers, and the girls learned to sew liners (from the woman who makes their uniforms and with DFG instructions) with some flannel I also sent with Juliette.  

I don't much believe in signs and the like, but there seems to be something strong trying to connect me with Juliette. Those back-to-back doctor appointments for both of us, and the physician paying attention and making connections.  And last week, at Our Sewing Room, I was telling a few people about the school Juliette started.  We hadn't been in touch since she moved many months earlier.  When I got home from Our Sewing Room, there was the email with the report on how well her students were doing.  Serendipity?  But twice?  It gave me chills.  I wrote a check (which will be matched) and sent it to her the next day!  It's so amazing to see all that she's accomplished with Shikabania.

Here's the report I received from Juliette this week:

     We are thrilled to announce the results of the National Exam taken by our 2019 graduating class.  They finished second in our local Meru district (out of 75 schools) and in the top 2% in the country of Tanzania (out of 7,102 schools)! This shows again that kids from all over can love to learn and can succeed! Here is their picture, smiling and enjoying math class. We are so proud of them and will eagerly follow their continuing education. 


 

     In a huge step forward for Shikabania, the newly built staff room has electricity (we now have two rooms with electricity!). In July our board member, Joe Sherer, brought six laptop computers (donated by Squire, Patton Boggs) so the teachers for the first time have access to the Internet and can share materials and documents with each other and with me back in the U.S. Joe came with lots of advice and inspiration for the teachers to use in setting up classroom testing and communicating.


     We continue with more improvements, planning to make more time for the teachers to be in the classroom, for the environment to be prettier, safer and easier to maintain, for the students to have better equipment and healthier meals. 
 
     We added another pilau with meat dish to our lunch menu of organic vegetables and other local foods. Morning porridge also has organic milk from the farm of our Administrator, Max Pallangyo.


 
Morning porridge also has organic milk from the farm of our Administrator, Max Pallangyo.
 

    The muddy areas of the rainy season have been replaced with flower-lined gravel paths, which are delightful to see and a boon to the cleanliness of the school.  I’m sure you would be very proud of your beautiful school!



    In very exciting news, the brand new playground is in full use, with the lower school children having a place to slide and swing and the upper classes a place to play soccer, basketball and volleyball.  (Our board member, Paul Sherer, visited the school this fall with a treasure trove full of balls and jump ropes!)
 
     Also we are very pleased to have received the gift of an excellent microscope for our science program!  Our generous donor brought lesson plans and instruction manuals with her, so we will be expecting to produce many budding scientists.  
 

     We are still hoping to receive funds over and above our operating expenses in order to meet the promise of matching funds up to $50,000 for our endowment, by our donor, Marion Weber and her Flow Fund Circle. 
     Our website, Shikabania.org has been updated and hopefully will be useful and inspirational to our family of donors and potential newcomers. You will find short bios of the staff, ways to help the school, products from our store, and much more.
     The most important thing is the change we see everyday in the happy, eager, smiling children.  We see them blossoming, learning, speaking English, trying hard to please their teachers and parents. They remind us by their efforts that you are making a difference in a widening circle of lives. This seems to me some of the happiest work to do in a struggling world.



     A continuing reminder: The address for donation checks is Juliette Reilly, 82625  62nd Avenue, Thermal. California 92274. Or the website at Shikabania.org.
     With never-ending gratitude for your generosity and all our love from me and the children of Shikabania,   
                             Juliette 

For more information on Juliette and Shikabania, click here, and scroll to pages 6 and 7.


Oh, and if you want to make a donation to Shikabania, keep in mind that as with Days for Girls, donations you make via check go 100% to the nonprofit.  Online donations arrive minus the processing fee--which is usually about 5%.

Friday, October 18, 2019

PERIODS ARE NOT LUXURIES

FIRST NATIONAL PERIOD DAY

Saturday, October 19.  Maybe this will be one of those days about which you say, "I remember where I was, what I was doing." Whether you celebrate by reading some articles, working on kit components, making a donation, telling others about period equity or Days for Girls, or participating in the Portland rally, you're helping solve the problem.  I just heard about periodequity.org on NPR--it has links to some articles.  Thirty-four states still charge a sales tax on menstrual products--and in addition to groups lobbying their lawmakers to eliminate that, there's also a lawsuit claiming gender-based discrimination. Watch this video!


AMAZON SMILE

Don't forget--you can choose a nonprofit to receive a donation with every purchase you make at smile.amazon.com.  Same products, same prices, same service as Amazon!  Their donation is half a percent of your purchase cost, so that adds up.  For the last quarter, DFGI received a check for $1070 thanks to supporters shopping at that version of the Amazon website.  Sometimes if I'm browsing on Amazon.com, it will ask if I want to switch to smile.amazon.com, but not always, so double-check to make sure your purchase triggers a donation.

And, did you know I created a wishlist on Amazon?  The prices typically are not the best for the items we use (especially if you watch for sales and coupons elsewhere), but it's there if you need a quick reminder.  There is more on our October 4th blog entry and in print (on orange paper) wishlist, of course.  One of the other leaders suggested the Amazon list that their donors can check if they need something to get their total into the "free shipping" status, so that's an idea.


CHECK THIS OUT

The website diaryofaquilter.com features Days for Girls.  Nice video to watch.


ANDREW CUOMO SIGNS

On October 12, the International Day of the Girl, New York Governor Cuomo signed a law requiring menstrual products to list their ingredients.  Fantastic--I hope the rest of the states follow suit!

WHERE ARE THOSE KITS WE MADE?

Do you ever get asked where our kits go?  Kits from our Eugene/Springfield Chapter have been distributed in Afghanistan, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Peru, Puerto Rico (after Hurricane Maria), Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Texas (after Hurricane Harvey), Uganda and Zimbabwe.  We've also shared kits and components with other chapters, but I neglected to write down where those were heading.


UPCOMING WORKDAYS AT OUR SEWING ROOM

Our next workday will be Saturday, November 2, 10-4.  That's the day we'll celebrate Days for Girls' 11th birthday (November 1) and the 100th anniversary of my mother's birth (November 2), and I'll bring a Sweet Life cake.  Presents for DFG are always welcome.  Our wish list was posted in the October 4th blog entry, with desired items listed in order of current need, so scroll down to see if there's anything you'd like to bring.  At the top of the list is  "Cotton  underpants, girls sizes 10, 12, 14 & 16, and women’s sizes 5, 6 and 7, as colorful as possible (for hiding stains). The styles we use are bikini (preferred by most of the girls), briefs, and hipsters.  Please no boy shorts or thong styles.  Fabric restrictions apply here too (except that solids are great). Do not wash the undies."  

In celebration of this 11th year milestone, Days for Girls is shipping 33,000 kits to women in refugee camps.  Our chapter contributed 527 kits, which depleted our undie supply by 1054 pairs!

We will NOT have a workday on the first Saturday in December, because Our Sewing Room is hosting a special event that day.  We may schedule a substitute date if we have a deadline looming, so stay tuned.


OUR KITS COME WITH EDUCATION

Education and knowledge create a girl force that's unstoppable. That’s why in addition to distributing washable pads and menstrual health products, we focus on health education for girls around the world. 
This education is the key to creating long-lasting, sustainable change in communities, shattering stigmas surrounding menstruation, and empowering girls to chase their dreams.



KENYA

When we first started out as a team, Friends of Kenya Schools and Wildlife (based in Junction City) requested kits for the girls in schools they support.  Browsing my records, I just came across this feedback from the recipients: 

o The kits are comfortable
o They don’t need to change very often.
o There is no burning sensation.
o There is no leakage.
o The girls are happy because the shields and liners are easy to clean they can use ordinary soap that they have available
o They are happy with the colors and the patterns, and the material. 
o Sizing. Almost all of the girls fit the 10/12.
Image may contain: 12 people, people smiling


When I first saw the photos, I experienced a happy jolt to see familiar fabric that had been patiently waiting on the shelves of my sewing room for just the right project, now in the hands of these lovely young ladies, thousands of miles away! 

We sent kits to Kenya a few times in our early years, but no longer do.  The local women expressed interest in making and selling the kits, and FKSW stepped up and paid for them to receive training at Days for Girls University in Uganda.  They now are one of several Kenyan Enterprises, providing kits for nonprofits to purchase in country, education presentations for distributions, and individual components for the local girls and women to purchase as they need to supplement their  kits!  


Friday, October 11, 2019

MAYBE IF WE ALL . . .

TODAY IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL


𝘞𝘦'𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘋𝘢𝘺 𝘖𝘧 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘎𝘪𝘳𝘭!
Join us today, October 11 to celebrate girls, periods, and health. Help us reach girls across 6 continents with sustainable menstrual health solutions.
Let's make a difference because every girl matters!

If you want to donate online, here's our link (for donations to our chapter.)  As suggested in the previous post, there are so many ways to support our efforts--take a look.   


OCTOBER 19  =  NATIONAL PERIOD DAY

It's also my sister's 63rd birthday, but I'm pretty sure none of the rallies across the country are celebrating that milestone.  She's a little too private for countrywide rallies.

Thousands of rallies across the USA will be focusing attention on gender inequities and period poverty.  Last month I mentioned that California has a sales tax on menstrual supplies, but not chocolate.  Here are some more:

  • In Arkansas, beer kegs aren't taxed, but pads are.
  • In Hawaii, erectile dysfunction pills aren't taxed, but pads are.
  • In Idaho, chainsaws aren't taxed, but pads are.
  • In Michigan, doughnuts aren't taxed, but pads are.

The list goes on and on--menstrual products are still taxed in 35 states.  That tax is adversely affecting women, their families, and their futures.

That's what the rallies in cities across the US are about.  Celebrate National Period Day and speak up about the tampon tax.  

Here's a quick video from DFGI founder Celeste Mergens.


PERIOD SHAME

Funny to see Saturday Night Live's skit on period shaming.  


MAYBE IF WE ALL HAD THEM

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe . . . .   Thinx ad banned because of a string!  This one should put a smile on your face.


OUR SEPTEMBER WORKDAY

So much was accomplished October 5th.  We have the best volunteers and supporters, and I am so proud of what we create to change lives!








PIONEER QUILTERS' DONATION

Our Days for Girls Chapter was one of three nonprofits to share in the profit made at the Pioneer Quilters Quilt Show last month.  Our share is over $500, which means almost 5 dozen more girls will  receive kits to help them continue their educations and brighten their futures.  Thank you to all who purchased raffle tickets and admissions to make the show at the Cottage Grove Armory a big success, and thanks to Pioneer Quilters for choosing us as a beneficiary! If you know a Pioneer Quilter (other than me), please tell them how much this means to you--and the girls! 

A SOMBER NOTE


On September 13, I posted about a young Kenyan girl who took her own life after being humiliated by her teacher for staining her skirt the first day of her first period.  Our own volunteer Kalani wrote this moving tribute to Jacqueline:

JACQUELINE
Kenya, September, 2019
I heard the news of your suicide two days ago.
The ground came up to meet my knees as I slumped down, weeping. 
This cannot be, I cried, not one more time. 
Yet, it is, many times over, because
of the lack of education
and adults who
use girls as whipping posts and shame them, or as sexual objects,
trading sex for menstrual supplies.
How quickly can we meet a need that has gone on for years and years? 
How can we make haste to save these girls from the lacks they suffer? 
So many of us are on the move, preparing in any and all ways to 
supply these kits to girls. 
For many of us, any spare moment is spent in dedicated service to 
Days for Girls, 
And yet,
Another girl is gone.
All over the world, where women are treated as trash, 
they are dying.
In freezing cold huts where venomous snakes enter, 
they meet their deaths. An innocent 12-year old has killed herself. 
They are dying because of a natural cycle in their lives. 
Sitting here, warm and dry, I am attempting to forgive.
As a female priest and therapist working with survivors
Of sexual abuse, this is my calling. 
I must move past the rage I have felt since hearing the news,
Rage is not the answer—action is. 
I will find another half hour, another phone call where I
can work and finish bags simultaneously. 
I will make a shirt for all the Jacquelines so I can speak of this
If people ask,
These deaths will not be in vain, and one day, 
They will cease. 

(Rev. Dr.) Kalani Goins 
Eugene Chapter, Oregon