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 our search for a dependable pattern to reproduce, we discovered the organization Days for Girls. With their permission, we downloaded their pattern and local women began to sew independently and at gatherings called "sew-ins."
We reached out to a personal contact in Kenya, Robert, who is a Kenyan social worker. We 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 towel. When I asked them about the re-used towel the majority were for the idea for it will cut down the missing class time … so that they can have time to attend class lessons.
They are happy to learn that you have a pattern that can be re-used. That will work better for 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. Soon sew-ins were taking place in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan! With the aid of Orphan Grain Train, our first shipment of 300 kits arrived in Kenya in 2015.
Robert shared their 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, we wanted to encourage Kenyan independence. Through a donation, Gladys, a Kenyan seamstress was sent to the Days for Girls University in Uganda to be trained in sewing the products as well as business management. Gladys has now set up shop in Kenya, 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 camps and community gatherings. A hen farm and market stall were built. A sponsorship program for hens and goats to be given to at-risk families was also initiated, knowing livestock would provide crucial nutrition and products to sell.
Dignity4Girls has also helped ship over 2,000 kits to Liberia and is in the process of helping establish sewing classes in two high schools.
Bethany Lutheran, Naperville
Immanuel Lutheran, Elmhurst
Peace Lutheran, Plainfield
St. Mark's Lutheran, St. Charles
Trinity Lutheran, Roselle
Trinity Lutheran, Lisle
Trinity Lutheran, Toledo
Grace Lutheran, Menomonee Falls