Women’s Initiatives: Reusable Feminine Hygiene Kits

Women’s Initiatives: Reusable Feminine Hygiene Kits

Since our first expedition in May 2016, we have taught Days for Girls workshops in schools, churches, homes, and rescue centers in Kenya. From the streets of Nairobi to the rolling hills of The Mau Forest, we have donated over 3500 reusable feminine hygiene kits to women and girls, including education in hygiene, self-defense, and reproduction. We have helped build and establish two sewing centers, where women in Kenya have become trained Days for Girls Ambassadors, as well as learning sewing and business skills. Because of this, they are able to support their families, and pay for school fees for their children.

Kenya is the 8th Poorest Country in the World

Many women in Kenya struggle with their monthly menstruation, often resorting to sleeping with men in order to buy sanitary towels. There are just over $51 million people in Kenya, and the median age is 19. Kenya currently ranks 8th on the extreme poverty list, and 11 million Kenyans are currently living below the poverty line. In Narok County, where most of our projects are based, 49% of the county is living in poverty. 

A reusable feminine hygiene kit can last for up to 3 years when taken care of, and can keep a girl in school without missing due to her period. That is a very big deal for girls in Secondary School, where often pregnancy and poverty cause them to drop out. 100 Humanitarians International commits to fundraising for 1000 kits per year, hiring the women and men who work in the sewing centers to make the kits, keeping the economy in Kenya. Each kit is $10, so our annual fundraising goal is $10,000. Every dollar makes a difference!

Christine Khamasi – Women’s Initiatives Director in Kenya

In this video, you will hear from our Women’s Initiatives Director in Kenya, who also runs the Zariel Days for Girls Enterprise. Her name is Christine Khamasi, and we have worked with her for four years to support her vision for women and girls in Kenya. She comes with us to lead the feminine hygiene workshops on every expedition, and shares her story, which IS the Days for Girls story, with our teams. 

Women’s empowerment in Kenya is all about saving time and creating opportunities for education and income. Much of a woman’s day in rural communities is spent gathering water and firewood, and cooking over an open fire inside their huts. It’s dark, smokey, and often they develop respiratory issues as a result. 

In addition, women and girls often struggle with menstruation and having access to feminine hygiene products to manage their periods. Often girls will be forced to drop out of school after missing several days a month due to menstruation. 

Even if there is feminine hygiene products available, underwear can be scarce, especially for women in the slums and girls in rural Kenya. 

Our Women’s Initiatives address these three areas. 

Beginning in the Summer of 2015, we helped establish a Days for Girls Enterprise in Nairobi, assisting with fundraising for Christine Sakali to attend the Days for Girls University in Uganda. Christine already had a sewing center where she was employing women from the slums. After becoming certified as an Ambassador for Days for Girls, she began sewing the reusable feminine hygiene kits to distribute to girls in Kenya. 

Rather than bring kits from the United States, we wanted to support Christine’s enterprise, and keep the economy in Kenya. We began fundraising for $10 per kit, to allow Christine to purchase supplies and pay her team to sew the kits. Each kit can last up to 3 years when taken care of, allowing a girl to stay in school, rather than miss due to menstruation. 

We also helped establish a second Days for Girls Enterprise in Bomet, Kenya, led by our Community Director, Anita Byegon. Between the two enterprises, we have distributed over 5000 kits to women and girls in Kenya, with a goal of 1000 kits each year. The workshops include hygiene, self-defense, and reproductive training, encouraging girls to avoid sex and stay in school. 

Mentoring Families: A Tree Farm in Kenya

Mentoring Families: A Tree Farm in Kenya

A Tree Farm in Kenya

In the Fall of 2017, we visited Nkareta for the first time. Nkareta is a community of around 3000 people, just outside of Narok. Our goal at the time was to do family assessments, which we like to do when we “open” a new area. We met Jacob, who is now our Community Director in that area, and he introduced us to two families he wanted us to work with, the Peres and Kirimogos.

100 Humanitarians Community Director

Jacob, the Nkareta Community Director

We started off at the Peres’ house, and spent some time talking with the different members of the family. Noosonkon and Nkulena Pere have 6 children, ranging in age from Class 1 (first grade) to University age. They have 16 acres of land that they can rent for cattle grazing, and wanted to grow and sell vegetables. They have a local water hole that is really dirty, and when it dries up, they have to walk 4 km to get water.

100 Humanitarians - Pere Family

Meeting The Pere Family in Kenya

The Kirimogos, Ntabuat and Ksiuku, also have 6 children that attend the local public day school. They have 9 acres of land, no animals, and would like to grown and sell vegetables. They also have four adopted girls who are nieces that they help support.

Our assessment was that we should start with garden boxes for both families, and then move on to animals later. We launched a $5 Friday Fundraiser on Facebook to start building our gardening and tree projects in this community.

After returning from Kenya, we started discussions with Jacob about how to accomplish this. The McMurdos were living in Kenya at the time, and agreed to go and help the families build garden boxes. They were built in January 2018. At the same time, Jacob showed us the garden towers, which were cheaper than building the boxes, and wouldn’t be subject to termites. We decided that moving forward, we would use the towers, with plans to build the first one in June 2018. In the meantime, we also wanted to see about using some of the land that the Peres and Kirimogos had to start tree farms for seedlings that we could transplant to other families in the area. We started creating big plans for how we could help support the community in self-reliance skills. More on that, later!

100 Humanitarians Family Assessments

Becci and Christine visit The Peres

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Eselenkai Girls Primary Boarding School in Kenya

Eselenkai Girls Primary Boarding School in Kenya

Eselenkai Girls Primary Boarding School in Kenya

On our first expedition to Kenya, 100 Humanitarians held a Days for Girls workshop at Eselenkai Girls Primary Boarding School in Kenya. The girls in attendance were girls who had run from Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage, and were mostly in Class 7 and 8, which is 7th and 8th grades in the U.S. We had become aware of the issue of feminine hygiene for girls, and contacted the school to talk to them about the Days for Girls Enterprise and program that we were helping to create in Kenya. At the time, we were supporting one Days for Girls Enterprise, run by Christine Sakali, a woman that we helped fundraise for the previous year to attend the Days for Girls University in Uganda.

Eselenkai Primary School

After our training with Christine, we met with the girls in a large central hall. Part of the training included not just how to use the reusable feminine hygiene kit, but also hand washing and sanitation. Since then, our workshops have included things like self-defense and how to understand the female cycle. This was a very humbling experience for our team, because until we arrived at the school our expedition had mostly been the fun stuff like The Giraffe Centre and Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi. Realizing what these girls were facing, and how they were so brave to run towards a better life, we couldn’t help but experience a huge range of emotions.

 

 

Days for Girls in KenyaAs we distributed the kits, we had some time to spend with the girls, getting to know them and their stories. Many members of our team had the same names as the girls in the school. The girls, though in a very challenging situation, were all smiles and hugs and LOVED having their pictures taken with us. Each of us had a small group of girls swarming us, asking questions and playing with our hair. There aren’t the same physical boundaries in Kenya as there are in the U.S. and affection and love is everywhere. Even though we were the ones that showed up to serve them, all of us came away feeling like we were the ones who were served and taught by the girls.

Since then, we have made every effort to host a Days for Girls workshop on every expedition. We fundraise in the U.S. for kits, and then have Christine and her team sew the kits in Kenya. Her enterprise is able to then support many families with basic needs and school fees for their children. If you would like to donate to our Days for Girls program, click here.