We have added a new volunteer collaborator in Kenya and in spite of the fact that we have received so few donations.
Catherine Cherwenyi, Life Coach and Psychological Counselor with Ideal Life Vision in Kenya has joined our team. Catherine has been working with bringing sexual education and reusable washable sanitary napkins to girls.
Let us be clear we still need funding for distribution and materials.We are now working with thinking about sustainability. Both regarding sustainability of our sisters in Kenya regarding them having the knowledge they need to protect and care for their bodies, health, and security. Also for our planet as reusable sanitary napkins help to resolve waste problems. Here are a few words from our friend Catherine:
"Thank you Nichole for what you have really done, if am told the funds has really gone to our vulnerable girls... It's been a problem here in Kenya for girls exchanging sex with money for pads... And the returns has been massive teenage pregnancy... I personally I have tried with the limited resources I had to reach out to girls in villages and for real there is a positive impact... I have been using administration to get to this girls.. I make reusable pads and give out...I usually teach a sex education course and discussion, then with the help of friends we give out the towels.. I will send you a short videos of us giving out the reusable towels... A full kit when given to a girl she will use it for 3-5 yrs... I get this to be the best economically, hygienically and environmentally friendly...We are also working to help the communities where I give the washable sanitary towels get clean water by protecting springs to provide clean water for washing to avoid infections.. "
Period Poverty is something we have heard about and many organizations have worked hard at finding methods to empower girls across the world through education and giving women access to necessary feminine hygiene products.
I recently received an S.O.S. from a collaborator of mine from Kenya. Maureen Susan Okwar, from The Women Empowerment and Peace Building Initiative in Nairobi. Maureen and her colleagues have found themselves in dire straits. Due to regulations, closures, and fears related to the spread of COVID-19 their organization has little to no access to support young girls with access to feminine hygiene products or education. Girls in many areas of Kenya receive this kind of support through their community schools. The schools are closed. Funding is being cut for projects like Maureen's.
In a testimonial from a young Kenyan girl she said it was demoralizing asking for support. For me I find it demoralizing to think of her in this situation. Women's health is not a feminist issue or an empowerment issue it is a life issue. Something many of us in Europe and the Unites States probably don't think about because well it just is what it is.
Our mission is a two tier project.
1. Get funding to Maureen and The Women Empowerment and Peace Building Building Initiative so they can mobilize and get feminine hygiene products into the hands of our Kenyan sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces and friends.
2. Create a digital forum from Iceland to Kenya for female health and sexual education. Maureen will find methods to bring the girls into access with video feeds and computers and we will conduct sex and hygiene courses from Iceland.
You see right now in Kenya many girls and young women have no funding of their own. The simple act of popping out to the shop for a pack of monthly pads is not an option. Young women are selling themselves for money to pay for their basic needs. Teenage pregnancy and SDT's are on the rise. If you don't belive me here.. see what this young girl wants to tell you.
Please understand this is not a new problem in Kenya but it has worsened severely. Here is a link to a news story from this summer when Maureen reached out to me. And here a feature in the local news. Here is the most recent news from the World Economic Forum .
A few quick facts about the situation in Kenya:
1. Many women have traded sex for sanitary products. Shockingly, two out of three feminine pad users in rural Kenya receive their products from sexual partners. Teenage pregnancy is on the rise during COVID and it is being directly linked to this. (see video on our funding page)
2. Ten percent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa, where Kenya is located, miss school when menstruating. Because of the culture of shame surrounding menstruation, girls often miss school while menstruating since they do not have the proper products to deal with their period. Very few girls receive education about their period before it begins and according to recent research many girls are misinformed. Period shaming doesn't go away in COVID it can be even worse. (The girl who is featured in our video says it is demoralizing to have to look for help due to a monthly period)
3. In Kenya, maternal deaths account for 14 percent of deaths of women ages 15 to 49, and it is among the six countries with the highest total number of HIV infections in the world. No numbers are out right now in relation to COVID but it is expected to rise due to a shift in funding related to treating those who are infected with the virus. Also, I would like to add that under the current U.S. administration all funds were cut to clinics serving women's healthcare who even counsel women about abortion. This has closed and dismantled many outlets women had to menstrual health hygiene, care, and education.
4. Approximately four million girls in public schools in Kenya receive sanitary products through the government’s Sanitary Towels Programme, which was launched in 2011. School closures due to COVID-19 mean that these girls are unable to access the free sanitary pads, making it difficult for them to manage their periods. In situations like this, they will usually resort to the use of cloths and other materials which are less hygienic.
Here in Iceland and back home in the United States we have the luxury of taking care of these simple needs without much thought or care. Are you willing to help me and my friend Maureen Susan in providing our Kenyan sisters with these simple things? Are you willing to support us in creating a digital collaboration to provide the girls in Kenya with much needed feminine hygiene and sexual education? I have spoken to two experts here in Iceland who are willing to support the effort even teach digital classes on how to make their own sanitary napkins.
You can donate once or twice or as many times as you would like too. We have set a goal and our timeline is until the middle of December. Check in on us and see how we are doing...tell a friend. Equality and female empowerment is something we can all be proud of supporting!