Drawn to the River
As January 2022 began, the ministry committees of St. Philip's, Hastings, were alerted to a grant oppo[...]
Over the past year I've had the pleasure, adventure, challenge, and now success of working with a group from Saint Paul Area Synod and the Iringa Lutheran Diocese on a project/organization called Dignity for Daughters of Iringa (DfD). DfD's mission is to achieve menstrual equity in Iringa, with the first objectives of providing health education and ensuring reusable menstrual product availability by establishing local sewing ventures.
So, when I say success, I mean that we completed our pilot project at Image Secondary School, one of the six diocese owned and operated schools in the Iringa region. A team of nurses, nursing students, nursing teachers, the director of the Family Health and Nurture Department of the Diocese, two pastors and I organized and facilitated DfD's first (of hopefully many) educational sessions to both teenage girls and boys… and it went great!
The groups were taught separately, following a program put together by local and international health facilitators; the students were wonderfully responsive and interactive. Culturally speaking (and let’s be honest, as humans in general) it's not easy for young adults to speak up about puberty and the questions and concerns that come with it. Not only that, but it’s also not terribly easy OR affordable for young women to access the materials they need from month-to-month while away at VERY remote boarding schools.
Our favorite part, and initial goal when starting this group, was to hand out reusable sanitary kits. These kits were fabricated by women in the Family and Nurture Department at the Iringa Lutheran Diocese and tested and approved by a small group of girls from a village near Iringa. It was exciting for me to see the nurses in our group teach the girls how to use and care for them. It was equally joyous to see the smiles on the faces as they dug through the kits and giggled.
We were happy to take this first, baby step in sharing with the students the resources and knowledge that we’ve learned from our own experiences, and from fellow women and girls in our community. Dignity for Daughters has a lot to learn but is happy with what we’ve gained from the pilot project. We pray that our efforts will ease the discomfort that young men and women in the Iringa region face as they grow up and try so hard to focus on their education and life goals.
Bega Kwa Bega Program Coordinator
Saint Paul Area Synod