By Krystal Woodside
March 21, 2019
Our time in Kenya is coming to an end! In less than a week we will be getting on our plane back to Canada. These past few days have been very busy but also a great experience. Over the weekend we travelled to Samburu for an amazing safari. We were able to see so many animals and had a great time. As pre-service teachers we also had the opportunity to be a part of the Safe Inclusive Schools project that was put on by Carolyn, Carolyn, and Elizabeth. This was a great experience and I felt as though I learnt just as much as the teachers from Kenya did.
The real highlight for me this week though has been the Days for Girls project we were involved in. Between the four female pre-service teachers we were able to give this workshop at 5 different schools which equalled over 200 girls!
On Wednesday, Hailey and I went back to Rugetene to present this workshop to the standard 6, 7, and 8 girls.
Volunteers in Canada sew these beautiful kits for us to give the girls. In the kits are reusable pads, soap, a wash cloth and the instructions. The night before the workshop we had an opportunity to look through the materials and marvel at the amazing work these volunteers did.
They are so beautiful with their many colours and are so well made. If the girls take care of them they can last for up to 4 years!
The standard 6 & 7 girls posing with their new Days for Girls kits. Everyone was very excited and appreciative of these products.
During the workshops we focused on the kits and how to properly use and clean them which is very important for the students to know. Other topics we covered included female and male anatomy, puberty, safe sex, and consent. It was funny as presenting this program reminded me of my sexual education class in grade 6. Everyone was a little awkward but also very open and inquisitive and that’s what I saw with the Rugetene girls. They started the day off a little slow but by the end we could barely keep up with all the questions. I am glad they were given a safe space to ask some questions they may not have otherwise been comfortable asking.
This workshop also illustrated some stark differences between Canada and Kenya. Growing up in Canada I think girls often take advantage of having access to menstruation products. We learnt that in Kenya they can be hard to come by and many girls have to make due by using other materials they can find around their house. This made this experience even more precious. I know that the girls really appreciate these kits and will take good care of them.
This project got me thinking about how Farmers Helping Farmers can continue their work with Days For Girls and providing menstruation products to women. It is not only school aged girls who could benefit from this program. We talked to many women in the area who said they could use these kits and some students even told us their female family members don’t have access to menstruation products. Farmers helping Farmers really tries to work on sustainability and this project in my opinion is an opportunity for that.
I was speaking to Carolyn Francis this week about how it would amazing to see a sewing project here in Kenya where women with proper training could actually make these kits. They could then distribute the kits and educate other women in Kenya on how to use them. I am a strong believer in women’s rights and access to feminine products is an issue that many women in Kenya struggle with. If we can find a way to provide more kits to females here in Kenya without always having to transport them from Canada that would be ideal. During these workshops I was able to see first hand how valuable and appreciated these kits are. The girls were so excited and proud of what we had given them. I look forward to seeing if there are ways to make them more accessible so we can continue to empower women here in Kenya.
To read more about the Days for Girls project, visit the Farmers Helping Farmers website. The packages distributed by Farmers Helping Farmers are created by the Empower Sewing Group in Guelph, Ontario, who have donated more than 1,000 of the kits! Their work was celebrated as part of 2019 International Development Week.