Last month Genna Helfrich, our friend who is serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi, asked me if I could sew some reusable pads for women in her village and surrounding villages. Genna sent along a link to the Days for Girls website, so that I could use their pattern and information on making feminine hygiene products.
As I browsed the website, I was stunned to find out that women in many countries miss 2-3 months of work and school each year because they do not have pads, tampons and the like. I had always wondered what women did in “the olden days” when they had their periods…little did I know that women today face this issue every month. In some cases, they may try to use old rags or leaves, but it has not been very effective or healthy (as you can imagine…). As a result, they end up needing to stay home during their menstrual cycles each month, which in turn sets up them behind in their education and career goals. Not to mention, if these women are the main source of income in their families, it not only sets them back in long term goals, but in the short term necessities of daily life.
I turned to my parish community for help with this project, and the response was incredible. People donated more than enough money to cover all the costs – fabric, extra fabric scissors, tote bags, underwear, washcloths, ziploc bags. People also donated extra fabric that we’ll be able to send to Genna and the Malawian women, as they learn to make their own cloth pads, as well.
During our sewing event, appx. 30 women came to help prep the fabric and sew. We were able to make about 150 liners and 100 shields (see picture gallery for what these look like). According to the Days for Girls website, these shields/liners can typically be used for about 3 years before they are worn out. So they are very sustainable and have the potential to change the general well-being of a woman’s life.
Taking part in this project was such a blessing. We had a great time enjoying one another’s company and creating something that we knew would help other women. What was so wonderful about this project was that, not only did we get to help women physically, but we had the chance to affirm their beauty and dignity as women. Rather than feeling like their body is a burden or an obstacle, we pray they’re able to embrace the beauty of their feminine genius.
Thank you Genna, for asking us for help! You have blessed us immensely through this opportunity! And thank you to all those in Grand Forks who helped out!