Step inside a basement room inside an office complex in Orem and you’ll see some very busy ladies at work. They are cutting, and sewing, and assembling something that is very personal and important to young women all across the world. Pictures of these girls hang on the walls as reminder of what this work is really all about.
The project is called Days for Girls.
“Days for Girls is an organization that helps girls that don’t have feminine hygiene [products],” said Debbie Young, the regional coordinator for the Utah chapter of the organization.
It’s something most humanitarian-minded people don’t think about. Usually, relief efforts to poverty stricken countries includes, food, water, or clothing, but not feminine hygiene items.
“I think it’s a shock to all of us, me included,” said Young. “I think we just assumed that in this day and age all these girls would have this available to them.”
But they don’t, and many of the volunteers found out first hand as they traveled to some of the third world countries in Central America, or in Haiti and Africa. They noticed girls were not showing up for school because they had nothing to use for their periods.
“When we give these kits out we teach them about their menstruation and about basic hygiene and often times my experience has been that they are learning this for the very first time,” said Young.
“That’s one of the exciting things about this,” said volunteer Julie Treadwill. “When the girls received their kits they are given an anatomy lesson about how their cycle works, what this is all about, that this is not a curse this is a blessing.”
The women say many of the girls think they were infected with some kind of deadly virus.
“In many countries blood is associated with death, disease and dying, and so their first thought is they have some horrible disease,” said volunteer Melissa Clark.
Each kit comes with two cloth shields that attach to their underwear, and eight washable cloth pads. The material and fabric is made to last three years.
Also in the kit, “each girl gets two pair of underwear, a wash rag, and then an extra zip lock bag,” said Treadwill. “And they get an instructional sheet that shows them without words what we taught them. And on the back is a way to chart their cycle for an entire year.”
The Days for Girls chapter in Utah started two years ago, and in the last six months volunteers have delivered 10,000 kits to 27 different countries. Last year they gave out 20,000 kits. The international Day for Girls organization was started back in 2008 and have given out about 200,000 kits throughout the world in 70 different countries.
The volunteers only hope to give out tens of thousands of more in the future.
“We do this because women get this,” said Treadwill.
“We are blessed with so much. There is no reason that girls should be suffering and not have access to feminine hygiene,” said Young.
“That’s why this kit is called Days for Girls. It gives the girls back days of their lives and allows them to be educated,” said Volunteer Melissa Clark.
Utah is producing the most kits in the country right now with 20 different chapters in the state. If you would like to volunteer or help out the organization visit their website atDaysForGirls.org or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.