Yesterday I had the privilege of helping with a Days For Girls project with the Haight Creek LDS (Mormon) Stake. We made feminine hygiene kits for women in Third World countries. Days for Girls International, a non-profit group, designed these innovative, practical kits, and has taught thousands of volunteers all around the globe how to make them.
Millions of women and girls are forced to stay home from work or school for five days every month, because they don’t have sanitary supplies to manage their menstruation. It impedes their education and financial opportunities. According to the DFG website, girls use rags, leaves, mattress stuffing, banana leaves, newspaper, feathers, corn husks, rocks, anything they can find, which can lead to infections, scarring, loss of dignity and confidence, among other problems. The kits are a practical system of moisture shields, liners and soft flannel fabric so that a girl can clean and re-use these items for three years or more. Helping girls stay in school has a surprising effect on breaking the cycle of poverty.
It was amazing to walk into our stake center and see more than 250 women cutting fabric, drawing and cutting patterns, sewing, ironing and assembling. Days For Girls has an amazing system of each step that needs to be done. The Relief Society leaders did a great job of organizing the workload so that everyone was busy and productive. The partially finished items will simply be passed along to the next volunteer group on down the line.
The website, www.daysforgirls.org, explains that each kit comes in a drawstring bag that can be carried to school or work. Comfort, style and durability matter women are using them for three years, or more. They contain moisture barrier shields that hold moisture-proof liners in place to stop leaks. There are also 8 absorbent tri-fold pads of soft flannel that are super-absorbent and can be layered for extra coverage. Unfolded, they are square so they can be washed with very little water, and dry fast so girls can dry them without risking taboos. Two Ziploc freezer bags are used to transport soiled items and soaking and laundering using very little water. Also in the kit are 2 pairs of panties, and 1 travel-sized soap.
The cool thing is, you don’t have to organize a huge group in order to help with this effort. One of my friends in Logan meets weekly with a small group of Cache Valley women who get together to sew Days for Girls kits. She said they have a great time talking, laughing and sewing all at the same time. You can get the patterns from www.daysforgirls.org, and work on them individually at home, or donate fabric or money to help as well.