In May, we told you about an incredible synergy of Star Wars (http://www.501st.com/), Roller Derby (http://www.okcbankedtrackrollerderby.com/), and amazing, concerned, generous people that generated more than $1300 and 363 pairs of panties. Thanks to all of you who made this a reality!
In June, we put that money and those panties to use. Given Koru-Kenya’s strong ties to Bangladesh, Kenya and the great need there, we were able to reach out to 363 girls in the informal settlement. It’s difficult to properly convey the challenges faced by these schools, their administration, teachers, and students. Two schools rest on a cliff side overlooking what remains of a gorgeous mangrove forest on a salt water creek. Unfortunately for them, erosion is a constant threat to the integrity of the school, which could be washed away by a strong rain.
Still the administration and teachers work hard to provide for the students. On both panty distribution days they heroically rounded up the excited girls and helped us to keep them calm as we distributed panties and sanitary towels. The girls were full of questions, their first coming from one brave young lady in the front of the class who determinedly raised her hand to ask about sanitary pads, “Can you please tell us how to use these?” This (with the help of a demonstration voluntarily and unexpectedly given by one of the older girls in the first two schools) and all the many other questions were answered during the course of the reproductive life skills sessions.
Remarkably, there were panties left over even after our target of 350 girls was surpassed (by 13 girls). We turned our attention to another vulnerable population with which Koru-Kenya works, street living children. Our life skills coordinator struggled to access these girls because street-living girls and women are especially vulnerable and cautious about interacting with strangers. Still, our life skills coordinator is well known in the area, and, when parents heard what we were offering, they did bring 18 of their daughters for a life skills session and panty distribution.
We also had a number of physical donations of panties which were too large for our beneficiaries. These panties were donated to the local health clinic in Bangladesh.
Education is a basic human right, for everyone. Menstruation is a basic body function, for girls.
We believe menstruation shouldn't threaten education for those who need it the most, disadvantaged girls facing an uphill battle against a patriarchal society that is changing, though slowly. The need is great and it remains. There were so many girls in Bangladesh alone that we could not reach. If this is something that moves you, please consider donating to continue removing this barrier to education, one girl at a time.