Keep Girls in School

This new program started in 2015 has caught on like wildfire.  We have already produced and distributed over 1500 kits in the remote village of Itombwe and have received orders from other parts of our province and beyond.  We are so happy that this simple solution is changing the paradigm for girls now, and as a consequence, sending them off into a new future!  

The Problem

Education for girls is the key to equality and self-confidence, but in Congo, adolescent girls begin missing 4-5 days of school every month once they start menstruating.  They stay home those days and end up falling behind their peers.  This is just one aspect of inequality inherent in a system that prepares these isolated women to stay trapped and uneducated in a cycle of oppression.  

Keep Girls in School

This new program started in 2015 has caught on like wildfire.  We have already produced and distributed over 1500 kits in the remote village of Itombwe and have received orders from other parts of our province and beyond.  We are so happy that this simple solution is changing the paradigm for girls now, and as a consequence, sending them off into a new future! 

Quick stats

STARTED IN: 2015                                                       GIRLS REACHED: 2,500                                               WOMEN EMPLOYED: 5

The Problem

Education for girls is the key to equality and self-confidence, but in Congo, adolescent girls begin missing 4-5 days of school every month once they start menstruating.  They stay home those days and end up falling behind their peers.  This is just one aspect of inequality inherent in a system that prepares these isolated women to stay trapped and uneducated in a cycle of oppression.  

The Solution

The solution to this problem is relatively simple: Pads.  But it is more than this.  We are also working to remove the stigma and taboos around women’s menstruation and normalize it as a regular and noteworthy biological occurrence.  Our Keep Girls in School program addresses both of these issues while providing economic opportunities as well.  

The kits include:

•    Two pair of underwear

•    Two waterproof underwear shields

•    8 washable, reusable pads

•    Plastic bag for transporting and washing used pads

•    Knapsack for carrying books and the kit to school

•    Picture instructions

Production

We purchase high quality material in bulk to make the Stay in School kits. The material comes from the U.S. The plastic that is used to keep the shields from leaking is a special material called PUL. The material comes to us from Days for Girls Uganda, in Kampala. We then put it on our truck and transport it the two days up to the Center in the mountains of Itombwe, where a team of local young women have been trained in making the kits. We now have 9 sewing machines helping young seamstresses earn and income in an area where there are few other economic opportunities.  

Distribution

We are selling in schools, villages and at the open market.  The Stay in School kits retail for $8, but up to now, we have been able to sell the kits at a subsidized price of just $3, thanks to your donations. So please keep them coming! We are receiving demands from many schools in remote areas for us to come and sell the kits there.  We are currently working towards getting a motorbike so that we can increase the range of our distribution

Teaching

The impact of the DfG Keep Girls in School program has been much more than just providing a solution for adolescent girl’s monthly periods, because the team’s strategy for gaining acceptance against the giant of an oppressive patriarchal society (including women who have grown up under the generational indoctrinization) has included a fairly comprehensive awareness campaign on radio, at community markets, hospitals, NGOs, before women’s organizations and churches, and every other opportunity that has presented itself. As a result, “talking” about a girl’s period, something taboo before this project started, has become commonplace.

 

The right and necessity of girls’ education in the area is also approaching “fact” status. Enlightened understandings regarding early marriage and forced marriage are challenging the traditional community behavior norms in the minds of community leaders, who are becoming more concerned about the future of their communities than blindly preserving the traditions of culture.

The IMpact

The Keep Girls in School program has deeply affected many in the communities as it has touched many issues that all families of adolescent girls deal with; monthly periods, education, early marriage, girls rights and girls future.

 

School headmasters are very happy with the program because it will mean a diminishing of girl dropout rates. Dads are very happy because it is a known fact that although when a son leaves the community for a far off land, he will never come back, that daughters often stay and marry in the area, and if they leave for school, sometimes come back to marry and settle. Quite often, girls grow up to sow back into and contribute to the community and their family. An educated daughter will contribute to the building up of the community.

 

The paradigm is already changing.  School principles have been reaching out asking us to come deliver to their schools because they have heard about the impact the program is having in other schools.  These are male principles.  One such principle said that it hadn’t even occurred to him that this could have been an issue.  The conversation has started and it is buzzing loudly.

 

Some things are hard to measure.  This program is led by women, enacted by women, and benefitting women, all within a small rural area.  The amount of respect, awe, hope and empowerment this is leading to for women in the area cannot be quantified.  

The future

We are currently working to expand the program to our urban center in Bukavu.  We hope to also buy a motorbike to increase distribution in Itombwe.  This year we plan to bring our total to over 3,000 Stay in School kits distributed to adolescent girls in this remote area.  

Help Bring kits to more girls

Hero Women Rising

PO Box 944

Flagstaff, AZ 86002

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