Special to The Record
Days for Girls (DfG) Comox is a remarkable group of women that make and assemble reusable, sustainable cloth menstrual supplies for girls and women throughout the world, where needed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the small Comox DfG team of six adhered closely to the government guidelines, therefore suspending regular meetings and work sessions. Each member would pick up new supplies to cut or sew components and drop off completed items – making a total of 440 kits so far during COVID.
The current shipment of 200 kits is on its way to World Vision Canada in Ontario, where it will join kits from other Canadian DfG teams and will ultimately go to Somalia. DfG requires that shipments sent to developing countries are met by a trained DfG Representative, who will oversee distribution and training. These steps are necessary, to ensure that the menstrual kits do not fall into the wrong hands – in many countries menstrual products have become a valuable commodity and can be traded or used for coercion of sexual favours.
The DfG kits are made to be pretty and special – which conveys value and dignity to the girls and women receiving them – who have likely never had anything new before. Each kit consists of 12 precisely sewn components and five purchased items at a total cost of approximately $16. As a charity, DfG relies heavily on donations and the Comox team has been generously supported by the local community, with donations of suitable quilting cotton and flannelette, etc. as well as private donations of cash and grants from the Rotary Club of Comox, and the Soroptimist International of Courtenay.
Along with each kit, each girl or woman is provided with education on their menstrual cycles, human reproduction, sexually transmitted infections, cleanliness, safety and human trafficking.
It is vital that girls are able to manage their cycles in order to stay in school. Missing a week of school each month means that a girl will fall ever further behind in her studies and drop out of school as a result.
Days for Girls was started in 2008 by Celeste Mergens from Lynden, Washington, who had visited an orphanage in Kenya and was shocked to learn that the girls have to manage their menstrual cycles by sitting on cardboard for days – often missing meals. Celeste leapt into action and DfG was started. DfG has now delivered two million kits, along with the corresponding education – but there is still a long way to go. Progress has been exponential and one million of those kits have been distributed in the last two years.