From Canada to Kenya: Helping girls stay in school

From Canada to Kenya: Helping girls stay in school

 

Farmers Helping Farmers is excited to be teaming up with the Empower Sewing Group in Guelph, Ontario to produce Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits. They will be distributed to our FHF twinned schools to girls who may otherwise stay away from school when they have their periods. These kits will give days to girls – valuable days in school – that will help them pursue their future.

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The story starts with Jean Hume, whose daughter, Janice Whalen is a past president of Farmers Helping Farmers. Jean’s grandson, Daniel Whalen, travelled to Kenya in 2015 as part of the FHF Youth Tour.

FHF feminine hygiene kits

Here is how Jean tells the story of the Days for Girls kits:

Days for Girls is an International Charitable Organization  with headquarters in Washington D.C.  Days for Girls Canada, has their headquarters in Red Deer, Alberta.  The goal of this organization is to permit girls in developing nations to attain an education in a dignified way. This is possible through access to quality, sustainable, feminine hygiene solutions and community-based health leadership programs.

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A year ago, my friend , Anne Parsons attended a quilting workshop and at the event  the Kitchener /Waterloo Days for Girls Chapter had an exhibit as they were appealing for donations of quilting cotton.  The program captured Anne’s attention and she proposed it to me as a possible undertaking to establish a team here in our retirement community,  Village By The Arboretum, in Guelph.

 

 

There are beautiful facilities here in our community so we applied for space and time to use the Hobby room.  We advertised with an explanation, that we would be meeting on Wednesday mornings and that we needed volunteers to come and help us prepare the kits. There are jobs that do not require sewing so all women were welcome to join.

We were thrilled with the interest as women from all across the “Village” came. Many had spent time in African nations and other developing countries in some form of teaching capacity. One of our members is over 90 and still able to set the work pace for all of us!  She has made 16 trips to Uganda working with teenaged girls. We discussed our needs and materials and thread and equipment and financial donations came in from themselves and their friends.

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The kit contains two shields, made of quilting cotton, PUL (poly laminated urethane, prevents leakage) and two snaps, eight flannel insert squares that form the pad when folded in thirds, two panties, one facecloth, one bar of hotel size soap,  two litre-size ziplock bags and an instruction sheet. All of the components must meet the specifications of the Days for Girls Kit. These are then packed into one of the zip locked bags and inserted into a cotton, draw string bag made also by the women.   As the snaps and zip lockbags, facecloths and panties and PUL all have to be purchased, donations of money are essential.

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The sewers have enjoyed the fellowship of working together especially with women whom they have really not known.  So for some it is a social outing.   Many have been quilters but have saturated their families with quilts and this gives them the satisfaction of creating something that will benefit young girls and really in return, as the more empowerment that women achieve, the better equipped this world will be.

The 300 kits will last approximately three years.  With an average of 12-14 women coming every week, it took us about 9 months to accomplish the 300.  Bear in mind there was a learning curve to meet the standards!!!

-Jean Hume
Guelph, Ontario

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Asante to Jean and her team in Guelph, Ontario!

If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to create these feminine hygiene kits and get them to Kenya!

First, Jean’s son-in-law Jamie Whalen brought the five load hockey bags from Guelph to P.E.I. in his horse trailer!

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Then the kits had to be transferred from the hockey bags into suitcases for the trip to Kenya.

 

More on that from FHF board members Liz Townsend:

On Friday February 3rd, a coordinated effort by Farmers Helping Farmers Board members transferred Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits into suitcases that will be checked baggage from PEI bound this month for Kenya.

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Starting with large hockey bags full of kits, FHF president Rosemary Herbert and board member Liz Townsend packed the suitcases and loaded them into Liz’s car.

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Finally, they had one more transfer to the waiting van of FHF past president Carolyn Francis.days-for-girls-1

The suitcases will be taken to Kenyan girls by UPEI student teachers going for a Practicum and the Farmers Helping Farmers team of Carolyn, Liz and Wendy MacDonald going to work on a new Safe And Inclusive Schools project.

The journey for all these kits started with an amazing group of women in Days for Girls who actually sew and assemble these wonderful, reusable kits that enable Kenyan young women to stay in school as proud members of their families and communities.

Quite a journey to make a critical difference in the daily lives of young women!

More photos to come from Kenya.

Asante sana for this wonderful effort.

 

 

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