Thankfully yours: What 10 years has taught me
I am a gratitude girl. The license plate on my car reads GRATA2D. To me, recognizing the many miracles that occur on any given day is key to both happiness and success. I completely delight in seeing the wonders of life around me. It’s a preoccupation of mine. Which is really easy when you are part of Days for Girls. We get to watch miracles happen every day--there are so many reasons for hope and celebration.
When Days for Girls started 10 years ago, I had only just begun to see the hope and celebration that would come from giving back days. The first girls we served taught me what it meant to not have access to the supplies they needed to manage their menstruation. As they hugged their new health kits (they weren’t even called Days for Girls kits yet!) they shared stories of exploitation; of lost dignity, missed school days, and poor health, all for lack of a reliable solution to manage a basic biological need.
They taught me to listen.
I have been listening and responding ever since. And I am still listening.
In those early days, it took just 3 ½ weeks to make enough pads to reach 500 girls. From the beginning, amazing volunteers have rallied to help give back days, some literally sewing until their fingertips bled. In ten years, we have asked for and responded to the feedback of the girls we serve and adjusted our pad design accordingly 28 times, before user-centered design was even a thing. It is their wisdom that helped create a suitable solution worthy of a patent (US patent number 9,877,878 to be exact).
That is remarkable in and of itself, but equally so are the volunteers who have continued to respond to that direct user feedback without ever giving up. With so much compassion and dedication, the momentum has kept building to where we are today--approximately 60,000 volunteers around the world working to give days back to girls and women everywhere!
And you keep stepping up.
In celebration of our 10th birthday, DfG supporters and Days for Girls Enterprises all over the world rallied to reach a breathtaking goal--100,000 women and girls in just 28 days. Days for Girls Country Offices, Enterprises, Chapters, Teams, Clubs, and partners like The doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, joined hands to reach the goal. On November 1st alone, we reached 10,000 refugees in northern Uganda in one day! That feat alone took months to prepare, more than 50 Ambassador of Women’s Health trainers, and an entire semi-truck of Days for Girls kits---all of which created local jobs, empowered local leadership, and was coordinated by Ugandans.
But they were not alone. DfG Enterprises joined in from 25 nations. And your support made it all possible.
It’s important to recognize every facet of that combination; because if we can mobilize Enterprises, Chapters, Teams, and supporters around the globe in that amount of time, then the world can truly reach Every Girl. Everywhere. Period. There are so many things that are hard to change in this world. Thank goodness lack of access to menstrual health products and women’s health education is not one of them. You have helped prove that.
The stigma and loss caused by lack of access to menstrual care products is changing. And that is truly amazing.
100,000 women and girls in 28 days? That’s so big it’s hard to envision.
Reaching over a million women and girls in 127 nations on 6 continents? You did that too.
It’s all proof that the impossible is possible every day with Days for Girls. 10 years, and the momentum is growing exponentially. People ask me if I am the Founder of Days for Girls and I often answer, I am the really good listener, who pays attention, keeps working, and shows up along side some of the finest humans in the world. Being grateful is easy. Thank you for proving the impossible possible every day. Thank you for being the force for good that you are. It is truly an honor to serve with you.
Celeste Mergens is Founder and CEO of Days for Girls International.
*Photos by: Erica Latack, DfG Uganda, DfG Centerville, and Katie Wilson Hughes