REACHING OUT - Shelley deBoon and Darlene Grasdal

REACHING OUT - Shelley deBoon and Darlene Grasdal

Local program works on a global scale

Days for Girls supplies products for women in developing nations

  • Jul. 21, 2016 8:00 p.m.

BY MARK WEBER

Lacombe Express

 

A group of Girl Guides who attended an international conference in Sylvan Lake recently lent a helping hand to a local project that seeks to provide girls and women around the world with sustainable feminine hygiene and better women’s health.

The Guides had selected Days for Girls as a service project during their time here in Central Alberta, said Darlene Grasdal, co-director of the Days for Girls Red Deer chapter.

“They approached us about a year ago, saying they were going to be at Sylvan Lake for the jamboree, and that they wanted to make Days for Girls their service project.”

Having been established in 2008, Days for Girls International is a grassroots non-profit organization.

Today, they are working in more than 70 countries, said Grasdal.

The vision?

“(To help provide) every girl and woman in the world with ready feasible access to quality sustainable hygiene and women’s health education by 2022.​”

Working with Days for Girls provides plenty of fulfillment for local residents involved with the organization, said Grasdal, who was part of a mission to Guatemala last year.

“The name comes from the idea of giving days back to the girls,” she explained. “For every period they have, there’s up to five days each month that they can’t do anything. In a lot of countries, they are staying at home just waiting for their period to be over so they can carry on with life. So they miss school and some of them are missing work if they are working to help contribute to the family,” she said. “So these (products) really give them ‘days back’.”

Volunteers create hygienic kits which contain sewn items that are reusable.

“The idea is that they can also take extras with them to school, or to wherever they are headed for the day so as they need them they can change them,” she explained. They are also given nicely-crafted bags to put their kits in, she said.

“They love them, because some of them don’t even have a school bag. So we’re giving them something they can take with them and not just on their period days they can use these bags all of the time.”

Other kit items include pairs of underwear, face clothes, soap and instructions.

“The Red Deer chapter started with my co-director Shelley deBoon, who went on a missions trip and was helping at a girls’ school teaching them to sew,” said Grasdal. “She met up with someone who had been involved with Days for Girls. Shelley really had a passion for it, and was asking how she could get involved.”

Ultimately, she teamed up with Grasdal and they decided to form the Red Deer chapter.

Locally, the chapter has between 40 and 50 volunteers who may come out on a regular basis to the sewing and assembly days. Since forming in 2013, they’ve supplied kits to many countries including Kenya, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ghana, the Philippines and Ethiopia.

Typically, it costs about $10 to make and provide what’s necessary for a kit, but Grasdal pointed out that fabric and other supplies are often donated as well. Red Deer Sewing Center, for example, provided nine sewing machines for their use during the week working with the Girl Guides.

Ultimately, it’s usually not a huge issue in the western world but in developing nations, the topic of menstruation can be a huge challenge in terms of self-care and managing without easy access to hygienic feminine products.

“We could send over boxes of pads, but what are they going to do with them? They often don’t have a garbage (pick-up) system. So this is perfect because it’s washable and it’s reusable,” she said, adding with Days for Girls, there is an entire educational component to the program as well.

“We make a connection with the countries we are going to; we make a connection with the schools,” said Grasdal.

Education on reproductive and sexual health can also be provided along with giving out the kits, for example.

“We’re explaining how to use them, but we are also talking about how there is no curse about having your period. It’s normal, and if we didn’t have than we wouldn’t be here! So it’s good to have some of those discussions, too.”

Sadly, a stigma <span

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read