A handful of women at Family In Faith Church in Glendale Heights, IL became aware of the dire need around the globe for reusable sanitary pads in developing countries. In their search for a dependable pattern to reproduce, they discovered the organization Days for Girls. With permission, they downloaded the pattern and local women began to sew independently and at gatherings called "sew-ins."
A church member reached out to a personal contact in Kenya, Robert Gutwa, a Kenyan social worker. She asked him to discuss this delicate topic with the girls in his village. This was his response:
“The young girls reported they lose 48 academic days per year, (4 days per month) as they avoid going to school due to embarrassment of lack of sanitary pads. They are happy to learn that you have a pattern that can be re-used. That will work better for the many poor girls who use leaves, old blankets, papers and other funny things so long as it serves the purpose.”
As word spread about the needs in Kenya, more churches and sewers joined the ranks. With the aid of Orphan Grain Train, the first shipment of 300 kits arrived in Kenya in 2015.
Robert shared the the girls excitement when it came time to distribute the special kits and how the older women called them "magic bags" as they discussed feminine hygiene with the adolescent girls, a topic rarely discussed in their culture.
But the women behind Dignity4Girls did not want to just supply the product, they wanted to encourage Kenyan independence. Through a donation a Kenyan seamstress, Gladys, was sent to the Days for Girls University in Uganda to be trained in sewing the products as well as management. Gladys has now set up shop in Kisii, continues to attend official DfG group sessions. and is training local women to sew the much-needed pads!
D4G also assisted our Kenyan partner ministry in establishing the Grace Community Center on donated land. The center provides space for their annual kids camp and community gatherings. A hen farm and market stall were built. A sponsorship program for hens and goats for at-risk families was also initiated, knowing livestock would provide crucial nutrition and products to sell.
As we continue to focus on encouraging girls, D4G has begun providing scholarships to select Kenyan girls to cover high school fees and needed supplies, funded an industrial electric mixer for a liquid soap enterprise, funds the Circles of Grace support group for young unwed mothers, and has provided a solar powered deep well (borehole) with filtered water for the Kisii community in the midst of a drought.
Dignity4Girls has also helped ship over 5,000 kits to Liberia through Liberian Children's Ministries and is in the process of helping establish sewing classes in two rural high schools.
Peace Lutheran, Plainfield
St. Mark's Lutheran, St. Charles
Trinity Lutheran, Roselle
Trinity Lutheran, Lisle
Grace Lutheran, Menomonee Falls