DfG Kits, Conversations, and Catalyzing Change:
Stories From the Field
Girls worldwide suffer indignities, infection, and even exploitation trying to stay in school. Read on for stories of how your support is changing their lives.
Meet 12 yr old Kgotso (Second from the left. Prounounced Go-tso.) Although she lost her parents several years ago, Kgotso stated after a DfG training at her school, "I am no longer an orphan. I am now a leader of women." Since the training, Kgotso has passed on what she learned to other girls at her school in Nzilikazi, Zimbabwe. Kgotso is also an innovator. She used her PUL scraps to make a tiny bag for a single liner to take to the latrine during school, and then taught others how to make them. Today she continues to hold DfG meetings at her school.
Putting an End to the Cycle of Abuse
The first Days for Girls distribution was for 500 young women in the slums near Kibera, Kenya. Health education was an important part of distributions from day one. The rate of sexual violence for female children is high in Kenya (UNICEF, 2010), so the discussion also included a discussion on safety, self-worth, and avoiding victim blaming. Nicole* was one who came forward after the training. She said if they wanted to leave their rooms or attend class during their periods, they had to agree to have "relations" with the director of their school who would only offer them funds for hygiene if they did. Her testimony was not alone. Many others confirmed her story. When the team realized how great the ramifications are for those that go without - and the power a simple solution has - they knew they had to help more. That was the day DfG was born.
Change That's Good for the Environment
After a distribution in the Philippines, several members of the community remarked on how environmental the DfG Kits were, which was important to them in an area with waste management challenges. Ellaine Edio, a local official, remarked, "I thank you very much for your program...It will cost us a lot of money to [manage the waste here]...Now I find…one strategy to address our problem, Days for Girls. We need to advocate for our women in our community, for our children…including those who still have their days, so that we can help in reducing our waste, so that we can help our environment."
Connecting the Dots: Menstrual Hygiene and FGC
In 2010, DfG was asked to visit a community in Kenya with a high rate of Female Genital Cutting (FGC). The team was nervous about the request from community members to add a discussion around such a sensitive topic to the regular DfG health education program. However, this instance illustrates the ability of menstrual hygiene education to serve as a gateway for vital conversations around many topics, which in this case included FGC. The community ended up making the decision to continue the right of passage ceremony for girls, but to remove the cut. When DfG returned four years later, they found that many celebrations continued without the cut.
The Biggest Cheer
Perhaps the most demonstration of gratitude we have ever "heard" was at a deaf school in Kisii, Kenya. The girls there watched the signing translator introduce each of the DfG team after each introduction they politely signed "hello" and then raised their hands and wiggled their fingers,, a sign we were told represented a cheer. But when they were told that the team had brought washable feminine hygiene solutions, their eyebrows raised and their arms shot into the air and they waved their hands with wild enthusiasm. It was the most powerful evidence of the joy these DfG Kits bring that our teams had ever witnessed. Supporters made it all possible.
"I had a passion that if other girls are going though what I went through, I have to do something...I'm glad I went [to the DfG University training]. My life was never the same. I loved the training even more than the sewing...I'm aiming to do great things by changing the lifestyle of girls in Kenya and the world as my life has changed since I left Uganda. I had no one to protect me from all this, but now as Zariel Enterprise I stand for girls. I'm so proud of what my purpose in life is."
Note: this is a small selection from Christine's whole story. It is a difficult, but an important one. If you would like to read the full, unabridged version of Christine's testimony, click HERE. .
*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.
TESTIMONIALS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE DISTRIBUTED DfG KITS
“The bags are so colorful, and it gets to the point where you’re handing it out to the 12 and 14-year old girls and stuff, and you’re getting others that are coming in – you’re getting guys that are coming in and saying, ‘Can I get one?’ So they love that idea – the color of them, and they’re so discreet! I think that is the major thing. Because you’ve lost all dignity, you’ve lost all privacy, you’ve lost everything. So this is something that you guys are giving them back in a sense. Whoever came up with it, I think was the best idea that I’d ever heard or seen.
When we first got them here a few years ago, they were great…we go all across ethnic and religious lines…
…It’s the same [in refugee camps in Jordan and in Greece], none of the facilities where people stay have any restrooms – everything is outside. And you have maybe, for 100 people you’ll have 10 port-o-potties. And they’re not that clean or anything. So we are actually putting inside the DfG bags, we are putting solar lanterns into those. Because there are no lights inside the port-o-potties. So it makes it really easy."
- Rita Zawaideh, Head of Salaam Cultural Mission, Seattle
"One of the things I love most about Days for Girls is that with each DfG Kit we distribute, we empower a girl with knowledge. Periods connect women because we all experience this. Periods don't have borders. There aren't too many things in this world that connect women and create such powerful change.”
– April Haberman, Edmonds, WA Chapter Director
“WOW!!!... My experience with the feminine [DfG] Kits was much better than I could have imagined. I was surprised at the community doctor's enthusiasm but came to realize that he just understood the need for these Kits and was excited to be a part of what we were doing because of you all!"
- Scott Walton, Sustain Haiti