Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sewing pads in Kenya






This great group of women at Koins for Kenya in Mnyenzeni, Kenya got right to work on the pad patterns and couldn't wait to sew! Check out the side bar for the pattern.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

First Grow Learn Give Video


Here is the first cut of a video describing our program! The video includes descriptions of the need for our program from local Kenyans and Ugandans, with insights on the importance of educating and empowering girls. You can view it here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/dG1uMgb59wZ6xbgvwddPdw?feat=directlink


And coming soon, we'll have pictures and stories from Kristin Brown, who recently got back from Kenya after implementing the very first pilot of our Grow Learn Give educational materials!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Phrases

One of us saw this wonderful phrase the other day, and we all fell in love with it!

Through experience we learn to grow,
in growing we learn to give,
in giving we learn to love and
in loving we learn the real essence of life.

We'd love to come up with our own-- leave a comment if you have any good ideas!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Bit More Background


Education, especially of the girl-child and woman, is widely regarded as the best investment that most developing countries can make. Not only does it open up choices and opportunities, education is associated with better health outcomes individually and as a family, resulting in better nutrition and fewer deaths among mothers and children. Preparing young girls for success in school is paramount to achieving health and success in an increasingly global community. Indeed, girls without an education will be greatly disadvantaged in the future and will struggle with maximizing their potential as adults.


Once young girls in school begin their menstruation, many drop out due to lack of access to sanitary pads and inadequate school sanitation and hygiene facilities to meet their needs. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (2005) estimates that one in 10 school-age African girls do not attend school during their menstruation or drop out after menstruation begins because of the lack of clean and private sanitation facilities in schools. Few schools have any emergency sanitary supplies for girls. Communal toilet facilities are not suitable for changing sanitary pads given the lack of water and sanitary material disposal systems. One study in Uganda found that one in three girls missed all or part of a school day during their menstrual cycle.

The Problem:

1) Many girls drop out of school due to absenteeism during their menstrual cycle.

2) High rates of urinary tract infections (UTIs) result from poor hygiene supplies and improper hygiene education.

3) Because of poverty, women lack an ability to continually care properly for themselves and their family during menstruation.

Women waiting in line at a clinic because of chronic UTIs.

The Forum of African Women Educationalists, Uganda (FAWE U) calculated that to cover their sanitary protection needs at market prices, girls must find ways of justifying a recurrent expenditure of at least 2,000 Ugandan shillings (just over US$1) every month. Such costs are prohibitive to a poor family where the household income is an average 20,000 shillings (about US $10) a month. As FAWE Uganda states, ‘Buying sanitary protection means a monthly spending equivalent of four radio batteries or enough paraffin to last a family one month. Where men most often control the household budget, how can girls succeed in getting sanitary materials on to the priority list? What is worse, where sanitary protection for one girl may cost around a tenth of a monthly family income, how can a household afford this where there are two or three girls?’

A recent study done by Linda Scott of Oxford's Said Business School demonstrates that menstruation is a significant barrier precluding Ghanaian girls from school, and that free menstrual supplies given to secondary school girls have been proven effective in overcoming that barrier. The study found that girls who were given pads reduced absenteeism from 21 percent to 9 percent. Scott stated:

"We think this problem is going to surface–and the effect of the intervention felt–throughout the developing world. What creates the underlying problem is, as I am sure you know, the fact that the community does not recognize the value of female education to begin with, second, that the topic is not talked about, and third, that there is an assumption that whatever method the mother or grandmother used should suffice (though neither of them probably went to school). Some in international aid have a reaction that might be summarized as “this is a trivial thing–why are we wasting our time talking about feminine napkins?” It is my hope that through this work, and any press attention to it, we can change the dismissive attitudes that some aid professionals have toward the problem.”



The Grow Learn Give Solution:

1) Provide hygiene supplies, reusable pads and patterns to continually supply women throughout their reproductive life.

2) Provide proper health education materials and lesson plans to teach others.

3) Provide the sewing machines and skills to sustain the supply.

To complement the kits, we have created educational booklets for the instruction of women and girls regarding their hygiene and the changes that occur during puberty.We intend to use the educational materials in concert with the hygiene kits, in order to empower the women and girls not only with tools, but also with knowledge. To see the materials, click on Hygiene or Menstruation Booklet (Pilot) on the right-hand side of this blog under "Pages."

Menstruation Booklet (Pilot)


Well, we've got our first version of the Menstruation Booklet (Pilot) posted to the right (under "Pages")! Also, we made a few changes to the hygiene booklet, so be sure to check those out too. We're really excited and look forward to having the materials piloted with the female hygiene kits later this month in Kenya!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pilot Hygiene Booklet

We now have images of our first draft of the hygiene booklet, located on the "Hygiene Booklet (Pilot)" page on the right. We hope to have information about the Menstruation booklet up soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

28 Days

Here is another fabulous video explaining the struggle of menstruation for many women worldwide, and a proposed solution. Grow Learn Give's approach and goals vary slightly, but the communication of the problem is very effective. Check it out:





We borrowed this great clip from our friends at She Innovates. Also I'd like to address the point in this video where a business solution is proposed, with the outcome of women getting jobs and providing income for their families. I'd like to point out that although in many cultures and religions it is not looked upon positively for the mother to work outside the home, we ought to bare in mind that in places where this issue is a considerable barrier for women and girls, they are also undoubtedly suffering from poverty. In that case, many women are already struggling to bring additional income to the family, and frequently fail to do so effectively. Empowering them to do so in a less time-consumptive, more effective fashion not only provides more income for the family, but allows the mother to better care for her family, spend better time with them, provide higher quality nutrition, and educate her children.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Study Shows Free Hygiene Supplies Aid in Overcoming Menstruation as a Barrier to School


A recent study done by Linda Scott of Oxford's Said Business School demonstrates that menstruation is a significant barrier precluding Ghanaian girls from school, and that free menstrual supplies given to secondary school girls have been proven effective in overcoming that barrier. The study found that girls who were given pads reduced absenteeism from 21 percent to 9 percent. Scott stated:

"We think this problem is going to surface–and the effect of the intervention felt–throughout the developing world. What creates the underlying problem is, as I am sure you know, the fact that the community does not recognize the value of female education to beging with, second, that the topic is not talked about, and third, that there is an assumption that whatever method the mother or grandmother used should suffice (though neither of them probably went to school). Some in international aid have a reaction that might be summarized as “this is a trivial thing–why are we wasting our time talking about feminine napkins?” It is my hope that through this work, and any press attention to it, we can change the dismissive attitudes that some aid professionals have toward the problem (one that is as much about dignity and sexual safety as it is about school)." (see source here)

Cost and lack of availability are two cited reasons why rural girls in poor countries go without sanitary protection. What’s more, Professor Scott states that girls are perceived differently once menstruation begins.

“Part of the problem is that the onset of menstruation in remote areas of Ghana is taken as signifying the coming of actual adulthood in a way that we don’t recognize it in the West. We don’t think of a 12 or 13-year-old girl as being marriageable or sexually available. But actually in this context it’s a signal that she’s both,” she says.

A girl without sanitary protection faces serious consequences.

“Her biggest problem is that if people know about this it’s not just an embarrassment and a laughing matter. It’s something that may actually put her in danger. And at this time also families often feel it’s time to withdraw their economic support for the girl to continue in school. So she suddenly starts having quite a bit less support for her continuing education,” she says. (VOA News, source located here).


Scott stressed the importance of preventing girls from dropping out: “There is quite a lot of data at this point to show that it has positive impact on economic development and productivity. But in particular, very quick impact on fertility rates, infant mortality, disease transmission, nutritional level and of course just generally improve the individual girl’s chances of having a happy and prosperous life."

Her research is a direct and wonderful support to our work here at Grow Learn Give: “To overcome community beliefs about the unimportance of educating girls will take at least a generation of intense effort on the part of NGOs and governments, but the simple intervention of educating the girl about her period and providing her with a reliable, clean, and private way to manage it, could have a dramatic impact on female educational achievement within only a few years.”

Her conclusions are that government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide free sanitary protection could aid in ensuring girls' education in a cost-effective way. She also pointed out that these programs would be most effective with a culturally sensitive approach. She concludes by stressing that communities need to be made aware of the importance of secondary education for girls (VOA News).

To read more about the article, click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you want to go to Africa?


Here are a couple of amazing opportunities to go and "feel" Africa for yourself. These expeditions are led by amazing women who have been to Africa many times and will lead you through with grace and confidence. The trips are planned through RTC, Reach The Children, a great non-profit led by in-country heroes. Both of these expeditions will implement our "Grow. Learn. Give." program. Here is the info:

May 5th expedition:
The goal of RTC expeditions is 1) to support the organization's mission of facilitating self-reliance in communities dedicated to the well-being of underprivileged children, and 2) to give people with a desire to serve an opportunity to participate in various life-changing experiences.

May 2010 presents an opportunity to participate in a Reach the Children volunteer service expedition in Kenya. The focus of this expedition will continue and expand the teaching of square foot gardening and related nutrition, health, hygiene, and sanitation in schools and communities of Western Kenya. Additional forms of service will also be provided to a school and the children of a slum community in Nairobi, Kenya. In response to evaluated and approved requests from Kenya, projects will be more narrowly defined as the skills & experience of accepted applicants are reviewed and the team is formed.

Patty Liston (RTC's Director of Women's Initiatives) and Karen Bastow (Director of Agricultural Interests/Garden Specialist) are the team leaders of this 2 week expedition. We invite you to share our perspective that uplifting even one person makes the world a better place. Come join us--you'll be forever changed, too! Placement on the team roster is on a first come, first served basis of accepted applications. Space on this small team is limited, so if you are interested please do not procrastinate contacting us!

RTC (a 501c3 non-profit organization) expedition expenses are covered through donated funds. Each team member is responsible to make sure a minimum of $3950.00 has been donated to cover their expenses--which include the following as arranged for the team by RTC: airfare between approved US departure cities and African destination, team transportation in Africa, team lodging in Africa, all meals with the team in Africa, daily bottled water in Africa, team activities, and contributions to team projects*.

Apply online now. There is no obligation with an application, but it does offer team leaders the opportunity to review the information you provide and communicate with you about the team being developed

June Expedition:
In late June, Pat Jones (Director Expedition Dept.) and Michelle Cotton (Expedition Dept. Director of team development) will lead a team of volunteers to serve in East Africa for 2 1/2 weeks alongside the lovely people of that region. This team will continue the two-fold purpose of RTC expeditions to support the organization's mission of "facilitating self-reliance in communities dedicated to the well-being of underprivileged children," and to give people with a desire to serve an opportunity to participate in various life-changing experiences.

The main projects on which this general service team will focus are currently being determined by RTC's native leadership in Kenya as they respond to local requests of communities in need. Typical efforts include aid to schools and communities in the areas of health--particularly dental and personal hygiene, basic first aid and nutrition--namely through education, "training the trainers," as well as individuals. Additional support is often provided in the way of building/enhancing learning centers in schools and communities to support the continuation of education, learned skills, etc. Some resources are shared to strengthen and encourage this education and efforts toward improved self-reliance. Projects become more narrowly defined as the skills and experience of accepted applicants are reviewed and the team is formed. Volunteers are oriented and prepared over time as they become part of the expedition team.

We invite you to share our perspective that uplifting even one person makes the world a better place. Consider joining us--you'll be forever changed, too! Space for this unique team is limited. Placement on the team roster is on a first come, first served basis of accepted applications.

RTC (a 501c3 non-profit organization) expedition expenses are covered through donated funds. Each team member is responsible to make sure a minimum of $3950.00 has been donated to cover their expenses--which include the following as arranged for the team by RTC: airfare between approved US departure cities and African destination, team transportation in Africa, team lodging in Africa, all meals with team in Africa, daily bottled water in Africa, team activities, and contributions to team projects*.

Apply online now. There is no obligation with an application, but it does offer team leaders the opportunity to review the information you provide and communicate with you about the team being developed.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Want to sew and help change the world?


We found the most loved and valued piece of clothing for a woman in the developing world------a reusable menstrual pad! These reusable pads liberate women and girls to go about their studies and work without worry of embarrassment. They wash these flannel insert pads to reuse.

These reuseable pads:
  • free up precious money every month saved from buying disposable pads
  • allow freedom of movement to go to school and work
  • save environmental concerns of disposing pads/tampon
  • prevent urinary tract infections by allowing woman to change to pads often and not worry about wasting money
  • give women and young women the dignity of achieving their goals and feeling beautiful every day of the month
  • are sustainable--women can learn to sew and sell reuseable menstrual pads
Every time a group travels to a developing nation we like to send them with a stock pile of pads and educational materials and underwear. We need sewers to help us keep up with the demand. Look up the pattern to the right (under "Blog Pages") and sew away! You can also collect underwear, or let us know if you are headed to a school or orphanage in a developing nation. We would love to hear from you-- just contact Michelle at michlars@msn.com.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Girl Effect


Our friends at "The Girl Effect" have created a fun and accurate video that truly captures the "girl effect" that we at Grow Learn Give are so eager to encourage. Enjoy their fabulous video below:

video

If you appreciated that, be sure to visit their website where you can learn more about the "girl effect" and the girls and women who are busy changing the world! And as another quick preview, here's a poster that reviews a number of steps that can be taken to empower our sisters around the world:


If you want to see this poster in detail, just click on "Give" on the homepage, and then click on "The Big Picture."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Worth of Educating Girls


The entire premise of our work is founded on the truth that to educate a girl is to educate a family. Below are some of our favorite quotes, statistics, and stories demonstrating this truth.

“If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.”
--Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools

“What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well.”
--Secretary of State and former First Lady Hilary Clinton

In a speech to his fellow Ghanaians in the early 1900s, the visionary educator, Dr. J.E. Kwegyir Aggrey, declared, 'The surest way to keep a people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family.'"

Joy Phumaphi, World Bank vice president for human development and Danny Leipziger, World Bank vice president for poverty reduction, in the foreword of the report Girls' Education in the 21st Century: Gender Equality, Empowerment, and Economic Growth stated:
“Women’s economic empowerment is essential for economic development, growth, and poverty reduction—not only because of the income it generates, but also because it helps to break the vicious cycle of poverty."

Female literacy has been shown to have a positive effect on health because “educated women are more likely to be employed and to earn more than less-educated women” (Daniell & Mortensen, 2007, p. 278).

“(1) Formal education directly teaches health knowledge to mothers; (2) Literacy and numeracy skills acquired in school assist future mothers in diagnosing and treating child health problems; and (3) Exposure to modern society from formal schooling makes women more receptive to modern medical treatments” --Paul Glewwe, senior economist for The World Bank

“An extra year of girls’ education can reduce infant mortality by 5-10 percent” and “educated mothers are about 50 percent more likely to immunize their children than uneducated mothers are” (Herz & Sperling, 2004, p. 4).


"Documented benefits of female literacy include fewer children per mother, fewer children lost to disease, and a greater use of modern health care practices" (Spratt 1992).

Strategic investment to improve quality of life through female education will have the greatest impact on maternal mortality reduction” (McAllister and Baskett 2006).

Some quotes from The World Bank:
"Children of mothers with 5 years of primary education are 40% more likely to life beyond age 5."

"When the proportion of women with secondary schooling doubles, the fertility rate is reduced from 5.3 to 3.9 children per woman. Providing girls with an extra year of schooling increases their wages by 10 to 20 percent. There is evidence of more productive farming methods attributable to increased female schooling, and a 43 percent decline in malnutrition."

"Educating women has a greater impact on children’s schooling than educating men. Young rural Ugandans with secondary schooling are three times less likely to be HIV positive. In India, women with formal schooling are more likely to resist violence. In Bangladesh educated women are three times more likely to participate in political meetings."

To see The World Bank's page on girls' education, click here.