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. With the proper equipment, Gladys has now set up shop in Kenya and is training local women to sew the much needed pads!
Production is slow, and the needs are still great, so Dignity4Girls will continue to ship to Kenya until together we can meet the local needs.
Dignity4Girls has shipped over 2,500 kits - or "Magic bags" to Kenya.
The Kenyan Sewing Enterprise is underway, teaching Kenyan women to sew pads.
FGM August camp for 96 girls and December FGM conference for 50 individuals, including those who cut. A local university offered to create publications sharing the dangers of this practice.
Hens and Goats Program is providing nourishment for orphans and widows.
New 2019 Project-
To create a hen farm for the sale of eggs and hens. AND a building to house the expanding sewing enterprise, with a stall for sales- all on donated land.
1,400 kits have been shipped to Liberia, to schools operated by the Liberian Children's Ministry, under the direction of Joe Boway.
A second shipment of 1,000 kits is scheduled for spring 2019.
Gayle & Don Sommerfeld
Bethany Lutheran, Naperville, IL
Family In Faith, Glendale Heights, IL*
Holy Cross Lutheran, Wheaton, IL
Immanuel Lutheran, Elmhurst, IL
Peace Lutheran, Plainfield, IL
St. Paul Lutheran, Chicago Heights, IL
Trinity Lutheran, Roselle, IL
Trinity Lutheran, Lisle, IL
Trinity Lutheran, Toledo, OH
Zion Lutheran, Hindsdale, IL
* D4G founding church group