Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Every girl. Everywhere. Period."

I like Humanitarian Aid projects.  I loved driving around one hot summer Saturday with my Dad in his red pick-up truck, collecting grocery sacks full of canned food that neighbors had left out for a food drive.  I like chipping in and buying extra school supplies every September for local kids in need.  I am enthralled and moved as I read about clean water being brought to remote, poor countries.  I am amazed every time a natural disaster hits and the Red Cross and Mormons are on site practically immediately to deliver aid.  These are all touching, worthy efforts.  And I think they really are the pinnacle of the Christian experience.  In doing these things we become tools in the hands of God to care for His children.

But not a one of them has ever made me feel like this one.

This summer my sister-in-law, Rebecca, was visiting.  One day she mentioned on the phone that she was up at her parents' home, sewing sani pads.  {'You are doing what, exactly?' I replied.}  Then she proceeded to tell me about her upcoming trip to Haiti.  She is an RN, and she is accompanying her anesthesiologist husband and family practice doc father-in-law to give aid in various ways while there.  One of her missions is to bring reusable sanitary pads to young women.  Women, are you ready to hear this?  In Haiti, as well as many African nations and surely elsewhere, women have no access to the Kotex and Tampax we SO TAKE FOR GRANTED.  Therefore, when their periods come, girls take to stuffing their pants with whatever they can find--newspaper, mattress stuffing, corn husks.  Yes, I just said corn husks.  As you might imagine, infections aren't uncommon.  And the truth of it is, they are humiliated.  So, when that period hits, they stay home from school until it passes.  Missing one week out of every month takes its toll.  They get behind.  They drop out.  And their lives go down hill fast.  But.  When these women can get access to sanitary products, their lives are literally changed.  As inspired and guided by an organization called Days For Girls, Rebecca has made it her mission to put together as many kits as she can to take down to Haiti.  When various friends and family members learned of it, we jumped on board.

I contacted the Relief Society president in my ward.  She immediately fell in love with the cause, we formed a planning committee, and the women came out it full force to make the contents of 70 kits.  Each kit is contained in a drawstring bag (made by our darling young women in the ward), and consists of 2 pairs of undies, 2 sanitary liners (picture a maxi pad with wings, only made of washable, reusable fabric and with a snap for holding the wings together), and 6 inserts (basically squares of flannel or terry cloth that you tri-fold and put in the insert).  It's a similar concept to the cloth diapers you see these days.

Like I said, I have never been so drawn to a Humanitarian project.  The response we got from the women in our ward was immediate and enthusiastic.  We kept saying to each other, "I am so excited about this project!"  I think because there is nothing we relate to  more as women.  Can you imagine not having access to these things and reaching for the corn husks?  It rips my heart out.

For a month we gathered fabrics, bought undies, began cutting according to the patterns, and organized machines for the big night.  Then we all came together for many hours on a Thursday evening to put it all together.  There is nothing more dear to my heart than fifty beautiful women taking great care to cut and sew and serge and fold, so that their young sisters in Haiti can know the dignity they deserve, without having to drop out of school or job opportunities.  This is lifting up the heads that hang down.

I live in a big, brand new home.  I have a van that works great and a fridge full of food.  Not to mention a healthy body and a sound mind.  And yet, shockingly, I often get caught up in feeling frustrated with my life or sorry for myself.  I can create stress out of nothing and become upset by utter nonsense.  First world problems, right?  I am so grateful for opportunities like this to have a window into what is going on in the lives of my dear, beautiful Haitian sisters.  Thank you, Rebecca, for inspiring us to forget ourselves and do something real and life altering for these gorgeous, bright daughters of God.

{You can help!}


Spiresfam said...

I love this Anne!! Such an amazing project!!

jeanine said...

this is an amazing service project! Seriously. I think I need to suggest it to our stake!

LBB said...

You don't know me - I'm Kate Butler's mother-in-law, but not really a stalker! Somehow I happened on this yesterday, and I'm so impressed! This is an amazing project and I am going to work to get our relief society involved, as well as take this as a personal opportunity. Thanks so much for sharing this! - Lynn Butler

Kate said...

K, I know you don't me but I came across your blog somehow one day and loved your style and outlook on mothering.

This post really struck a cord with me and I love how you gathered up the women you knew to make a larger thing happen- so powerful and inspiring! I myself am not a sewer, but I went right over to the website and donated $40 which I was happy to learn helps 60 women!

I have since told a few of my friends about it and hope to continue the awareness and support for this cause.

Thank you again so much for sharing this!

Marlo said...

ANNE!! I thought I had already commented on this post, but I guess not. I am so excited about this. I had been wanting to do something similar with the Young Women in my ward, but wasn't sure where to look to do this very thing. And here it is! Thank you so much for posting about this. You rock!