This week I received a report from my friend, Rachel McCracken in Yakima. She recently traveled to Malawi to help establish a library in a refugee camp there. She also took a small supply of Yakima Freedom Kits (formerly DfG) to distribute to the women there. I was thrilled to get her report:
Today was overwhelming–a little traumatizing and a lot life-changing. These amazing ladies helped me distribute a handful of feminine sanitary kits. I was only able to bring 60-70 with me because of all the extra library baggage. I so wish I could’ve brought 100 times that. Even 6000 kits would only put a dent in the situation here.
I originally planned to distribute to teen girls. However, when the UN distributes pads at camp, which is irregular and sparse, the priority is on school-aged girls.
However there are thousands of young mothers just over 18, single mothers who need work, and women of all ages who will not/do not have access. Feminine hygiene is simply a luxury they cannot afford.
So, we made the decision to pass these kits out to single mothers who have no access and no income–the most vulnerable. When I come back, I will bring as many as I can raise funds for. These kits help them stay in school and stay working.
As a sidebar—DfG has the reach to make a substantial impact here, but they are now focused on micro-enterprising in other villages in Malawi, so they will not distribute to the girls. We think that capacity building and sustainability is amazing and a best practice, but this shift in program direction also leaves thousands of girls left at home a week out of every month–missing school. So in the meantime, and for a population of people who have zero dollars for rice and cooking oil, we will distribute.
I am grateful for the donated efforts from small organizations like Freedom Kits of Yakima who believe in freedom of movement for women. Their collective effort has made an impact here today. They are amazing. And so are the women I met who work their butts off to keep their families safe as they hope for resettlement or viable repatriation.
As word spread, we were mobbed. I could feel the desperation rolling off my new friends. They need these kits.
If you are not interested in libraries, but feel a pull to helping girls stay in school and helping single moms stay working, let me know. There is much work to be done.
–Rachel McCracken, Yakima (instagram: GlobalMom)
Here are some screen shots of these beautiful women. My heart goes out to them and also to my friends in Yakima who continue to sew like crazy. Please let me know if you’d like to help reach more women.