Does news coming in get any better than this??–
We just finished our outreach on the Buvuma Islands. We had a wonderful experience there. As you know, we had really wanted to address the issue of girls dropping out of school due to lack of sanitary products when they are on their menstrual cycle. The Buvuma Islands as you know are a group of about 52 islands that are quite underdeveloped because they are difficult to reach.
Because we were unsure of the supplies available on the island, we considered the kit distribution because it would not require having the supplies. However, we also felt that sustainability was in issue we wanted to consider. So, our project consisted of two parts; kit distribution to the girls in the schools and teaching women on the island how to make the shields and liners so that we would leave them with a skill.
After working with the Days for Girls Uganda, we were able to get the supplies for 35 kits which we would be making with the women on the island. The group here was so helpful in working with us to get everything we needed. Then, through the help of the amazing women in Utah and other areas, we were able to come prepared with 200 full kits for distribution.
I wanted to give you an update on the outreach and give you a follow-up on our experience. Monday, we reached the island and got settled in. We met with the local authorities of the island who were so grateful we had arrived. They continued to express gratitude just for being there and were especially excited for the working we were doing with the reusable menstrual pads. Tuesday morning, we had quite a large turnout of women who had come to learn how to make the reusable menstrual pads. We initially requested a group of about 20 women. However, word traveled on the island about what we were doing and we ended up having about 45 women including some of the female local authorities, teachers, and health workers. We had three sewing machines as well as needles and thread to teach them how to sew the shields and liners by hand. Our group of volunteers took turns working with different groups to teach them step by step. The women were so excited to be learning how to make the kits on their own. We had to leave in the afternoon to go distribute them to one of the schools, but we arrived back at the site just as it was getting dark and there was a women (one of the tailors who had brought her sewing machine) and she was still there sewing. I spoke to her about her experience as a tailor – she had come from a better area in Uganda but had come to the Buvuma Islands to be a tailor to provide clothing and school uniforms for people on the island. She had lived there for the past 25 years. As I talked to her about the reusable pads we had made, she talked about wanting to see what she could do to start up a business and keep sewing those for girls and women on the island because there is such a great need.
Tuesday and Wednesday afternoonm we went to two schools – a primary school and a secondary school. At the primary school, we asked to speak to the older girls. We had prepared a lesson on reproductive health to teach them about their menstrual cycle, what to expect, etc. They had some good questions we were able to address. Then, we distributed the kits and taught them how to use it/wash it, etc. They were so excited. (I will be sending you some pictures).
Wednesday, we went to the secondary school in the afternoon. These girls range from 14-18. These girls had all started their periods. We again taught them a lesson on reproductive health, then finished up with a question/answer session. The older girls were much more open and willing to talk to us and discuss some of the related issues. We had a group of 5 or 6 female volunteers teaching the lesson which I think was what made them open up to us alot more. As we were finishing up with questions, one of the girls and the female teacher stood up to us and thanked us for what we had done and what we had given to them and expressed gratitude for something that could change these girls lives and is something that even their mothers cannot provide to them. It was a really touching experience to be a part of.
I just wanted to say thank you for all of your help in getting the kits and allowing us to extend the efforts of so many in Utah and other places to influence these young girls lives for the better.
If you are able to pass on many thanks to those who worked hard preparing the kits with such last minute notice, we would greatly appreciate it.
Pictured here: Jessie in the middle with our DFGI Uganda Team