Days for Girls in El Salvador
Posted: 05 Mar 2017 02:39 PM PST
A year ago, after the 2016 Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair (learn more here and here), we did a pretty intense evaluation and determined that a charla (educational discussion) about menstruation would be very beneficial for girls, young women, and their families. We got connected with Days for Girls International and groups in the US started creating the washable feminine hygiene kits. In August 2016, I wrote a blog story which invited people to help. The response was fantastic. By December 2016 we already had received suitcases full of complete kits and kit components, and I wrote a follow-up story.
Just a few weeks ago, we held the 2017 Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair in four Lutheran Church communities in the Northern Micro-Region of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church.* The menstruation charla was one of 23 total charlas, and fit into a circle of charlas about sexual and reproductive health. Pastor Emely of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church did a great job talking with girls and women about the myths and facts of menstruation, and opened up a space for participants to ask questions and to feel comfortable talking about their bodies. The Days for Girls kits were available to menstruation charla participants, and our target group was girls ages 12 to 25 (though some younger women and some older women also received kits).
With the impressive sewing effort from the sister churches in the US (French River Lutheran is one of them!) and friendly folks who sent kits to us, we started the week with 345 complete kits for the northern region. More than 150 of the kits were placed into drawstring bags made by Salvadoran Lutheran Church women. We ended up with 11 kits without outer bags. In total, we packed and carried donations of 690 shields and 2760 pads -- all lovingly made with beautiful fabrics according to the Days for Girls instructions. We carried all of the other kit components: undies, washcloths, soap, plastic zipper bags and instruction cards. About 100 of the kits were assembled in the US, and the rest were assembled by our Advance Team in El Salvador.
We also brought some shield and pad fabric, 3 yards of the impermeable fabric for the shields, various shields and pads in different stages of completion, thread, patterns, snaps and the snap application tools so that we could teach Salvadoran Lutheran Church teams how to make the kits themselves. We ran a small pre-fair workshop and used a borrowed sewing machine to demonstrate the process for making the kits.
In the days immediately following the Family Wellness Fair, our Post Fair Team visited 5 northern region health clinics, where we shared sample kits and explained their use. At two of the clinics, doctors and nurses expressed interest in learning how to make the kits. They would love to have them on hand to give out to girls who need them. One of the Lutheran Churches has already responded to this request and will be holding a two-day training session to teach how to make the kits. They will use the extra materials we brought, and our team provided a small fund for lunches on those two days.