Through our partnership with the Japplante Women, Days for Girls: Senegal, was established with 50 young ladies. Issatou Mar coordinated and led the inauguration program along with Bissenty Gomis, the Youth Mayor. The ceremony was well attended by local dignitaries who are strong advocates for girls' empowerment and education.
The girls were selected from 10 local elementary and high schools. During the ceremony, one of the attending dignitaries shared about how when he was a teacher, a young lady started her menstrual cycle during class. This caused her so much embarrassment that she quit school forever. He also shared that having access to something like this hygiene kit could have changed the course of her life. The girls were encouraged by LaVerne Campbell to see this as a tool to eliminate barriers to success.
Following the demonstration by Issatou Mar, two girls presented to the group as they shared what they learned. The presenters stressed the importance of using proper hand washing techniques and keeping the body clean. They also impressed upon the other girls the importance of properly sanitizing the washable pads after each use. Project Safety Nets' President, Ann Dillard, also spoke with the group about the importance of eliminating the stigma around menstruation and the need to celebrate the womanhood.
At this celebration, everyone received a hearty lunch and a hygiene kit which included,
2 pairs of panties, a washcloth, a bar of soap, 2 waterproof shields, and 8 flannel pads. The girls were also given a mosquito bed net, a small care package,that also included a comb, lip gloss, nail polish, shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
A special THANK YOU to Rotarian Judy Johnson of the Rotary Club of Maple Grove, MN for introducing me to this program and for leading so many sew-a-thons in Minnesota, from which these hygiene kits were provided.