Meet my Dear Friend, Grace

About a year ago I received a phone call from a woman in Salt Lake named Gloria who was in charge of a scholarship pageant for African princesses studying here in Utah.  She was looking for a service project for her girls and had heard about Days for Girls.  It was a perfect fit.

In January, we invited these princesses to our huge Kaysville Rotary DfG event and they were excited to learn about DfG and thrilled to help.2015-1-31 Kaysville Rotary  (85)2015-1-31 Kaysville Rotary  (118)Gloria was so taken by what she learned about what we were doing, she could hardly wait to tell her mother, Grace, who was visiting from Nigeria.  I was really excited and arranged to meet Grace a week later in Salt Lake.2015-2-5 Grace from Nigeria (2)We became instant friends, especially when I told her I’d lived in Nigeria for several years before I was married.  As I taught Grace about Days for Girls and what we do, she became very excited.  I gave her a kit to take back to her women’s organization.  I learned that Grace has a PhD. from the University of Calabar, which was near where I once lived.  She was formerly an Honourable Minister for Inter – Governmental Affairs, Youth Development and Special Duties.  In other words, as we’d say in Nigeria, she was a big (or very important) woman!2015-3-12 Rainmaker Award UVU (27)While Grace was in the States, we enjoyed keeping in touch and sharing news about Days for Girls.  When it came time for Grace to return to Nigeria, she took 100 kits for her girls and instructions to teach her women’s group of 150 widows in Abuja.

A few weeks ago I received this email from Grace:

Hi my beloved and hard working Mission mother.
This is to let you know that approval has been given to me by the Directors of both the junior and senior secondary schools boards in Federal capital territory Abuja to give out 80 kits to students from 10 secondary schools in F.C.T. 10 will be given to the principal s of the schools for the possible reproduction by their home economic departments for more students. Then 10 will be given to my widows for their training and further reproduction. Totalling 100 kits in all.
The occasion is taking place at Government Secondary School Tuntun wada zone 4 wuse Abuja on the 12th of November 2015 at about 11am.
All the students from the various schools and their principals and home economic teachers and many widows and staff of FCT secondary school board are expected to be in Attendance
I have also invited Dr Ugo to be in attendance and deliver a short speech. I invited Tina Gibbs and she said that she will talk to her husband and get back to me but I have not heard back from her yet.
I wish you will be here. It is going to be a big day for the Day for girls. I just want to make it big.
They will be pictures and tape recordings for you.After the occasion I will mail all the approvals and tapes to you. I pray that our Father God Almighty in His infinite mercy will bring it to pass successfully in the mighty name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour amen.
I am sponsoring the occasion from my own funds and the kits will be given free to every one.. The students are coming from distance schools and I have to supplement their transportation to and fro and some other expenditures expected to be incured but it is sincerely my pleasure to spend every scent to see these students get the kits and for the sincere love and efforts of the beautiful sisters like you and others in Utah who laboured tirelessly to produce them accomplished
Kindly send a speech that might be presented and if sister Celeste would like to send a speech all will be presented to the students and their principals be me or by Dr Ugo.
Kindly accept my sisterly love and highest respect . Give my love to the mission president and your missionaries.
The speeches if any should be sent to my email address and they will be printed out for presentation. Kindly join me in prayers for the success of the program please.

The Directors are all excited like me about the kits. The students will surely be more excited when they see them.
Kindly give my regards to the Mission president and all your Missionaries. Thank you again and again for all your dedication to us in Africa. Tell the wonderul sisters in Utah that our Father God Almighty will always reward them for us and their kits are getting to the right girls. I will send pictures and tapes to you for them. Kindly accept my sisterly love and highest respect.

I  sent the following speech to Grace for this event:

My dear friends in Nigeria,

I am so very honored and grateful to send a message to you with my dear friend, the Honorable Grace Ogwuche. My name is Ann Lewis and I am from Utah, where I have lived and raised my children. Before moving to Utah, I lived in Eket, Cross River State for 3 years, where I directed a child health project for the Thrasher Research Fund from 1983-1987. I loved living in Nigeria and made many friends there. The love I have for the people of Nigeria has directed me to find and help with many humanitarian efforts over the years.

About 3 years ago, I was invited to speak to a group of women about what it’s like to live in a village in Africa. I was so happy to go and show photos and tell stories about my experiences in Nigeria and help my sisters here understand more about the challenges you face and the heroic women who deal so well with those challenges.

After my part on the program, they were excited to show me a service project they had been working on for several weeks. They were making and sewing feminine hygiene kits for girls in rural areas who do not have access to feminine hygiene products. They said this project was called “Days for Girls.” I was speechless as I watched what they were doing! In all the time I lived in a village, with my neighbors and friends there, I never once had a conversation with another woman about feminine hygiene. I brought a 3-year supply of products with me. That night, these good women showed me the kits they were making and explained to me that these kits were washable and re-useable and they would last up to 3 years if taken care of correctly. I was astonished!

My life changed that evening. I went home and read everything I could find on the Days for Girls website. I told all my friends about it. I started organizing groups of women to make and sew kits with donations we collected. For the last 3 years, my life has revolved around helping make and get kits to girls in need. We have taught thousands of women and girls how to make these kits, and we have sent thousands of kits all over the world.

Last year I met Grace Ogwuche when she was visiting her daughter in Salt Lake City, Utah. I showed her a kit and explained how these kits can help keep our young girls in school every day of the month. I watched Grace’s eyes light up when I explained how we can help. The next week she told me several times that she could not sleep as she thought about Days for Girls and how many girls in her country need these kits. For the last several months, we have been talking about how to bring Days for Girls to Nigeria to bless your lives and the lives of your sisters and daughters and school girls.

Today is the beginning of something very big and very important for school girls in this area of Nigeria. We are thrilled to introduce you to Days for Girls and hope you will help us find ways to involve women in your area to teach and help make these kits. Every girl deserves to stay in school every day of the month! Please help us find ways to educate and spread the world about Days for Girls. We need teachers and leaders who can learn to make and teach others to make kits. We need help finding resources of fabric and sewing machines and women who can cut and sew. We can do this with your help!

Thank you for coming today. Please think about what you can do to help our girls stay in school and receive educations that will bless them and their future families.
As they say in Eket, “It is no small thing we do!” Thank you for helping in any small way you can.

I hope someday to return to Nigeria so I can meet you and thank you in person.

With my kind thanks,
Ann Lewis

A few days ago, I received the following report and photos from Grace of this historic event.  I am thrilled.  I have a great love for my Nigerian sisters and friends.  They enlarged my world when I was younger and showed me how to find joy and goodness in living simply and purposefully.  These women and girls are my heroes and friends.  I hope to pay them back for all they shared with me by helping them with this project.  Take a look below at what Grace has started!2015-11-12 Grace in Nigeria (7)

My wonderful sister.
This is to inform you that the occasion today was a huge success. About 300 people were in attendance and all the kits were given out free to students, widows and schools I will package the pictures and videos to you very soon.
Your message and that of sister Celeste were eloquently delivered to all by both Dr Ugo and my self. I will send the programme along with the videos.
I give thanks and praises and worship and adoration to our Father God Almighty in Heaven for the great success of the event. To Him be glory forever in the mighty name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour amen..
Kindly thank our sisters in Utah who worked tirelessly to produce the kits for us. All were very appreciative of them. May our God Almighty Father bless you and all of them for us always in the mighty name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour amen.
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I am so grateful to Gloria and her mother, Grace for all they do to help their sisters and friends.  I love keeping in touch with them and I love considering the great good a few good women can do if they put their hearts and minds together.  We really can change the world.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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1 Response to Meet my Dear Friend, Grace

  1. msnaisah says:

    Very beautiful story, and touching connection that you developed!

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