A team of six women from the Singapore Stake, with Belle Nef and Euddie Png as their leaders, went to Yangon, Myanmar on an unusual mission of love last November. They brought female hygiene kits and taught health workshops to women leaders through the Sandhi Governance Institute. Their objective was to introduce the 'Days for Girls' Kit.
What's the 'Days for Girls' all about?
Millions of women and girls in developing countries do not have what they need to stay in school, pursue opportunities, and succeed in life. Why? Because they suffer shame, isolation, and abuse just because of menstruation. Many resort to what they can find: old rags, leaves or cardboards, risking their health and sometimes even their lives. Now 'Days for Girls' (DfG) as an organization offers them a solution in the form of a DfG kit, teaches them health education, and trains them to produce their own DfG kit for supporting hygiene needs in their communities.
How does 'Days for Girls' work?
Euddie Png, the co-leader of the team, explained that 'Days for Girls' has three components: 'We sew, We distribute and We teach'.
Developing the DfG Kit has been a labour of love. It has gone through 27 different iterations, talking to thousands of women and girls around the globe in the design process. The result? A solution that lasts for up to three years, and a hygiene kit that is comfortable. It can be clean with little water, dries quickly, high user in a variety of setting and saves money over disposables.
After sewing, the kits are distributed to three targeted areas: East Malaysia, West Malaysia, and Myanmar. During their trip to Yangon, the team discovered that Myanmar has many orphanages, schools for poor children, villages and refugee camps that function with absolutely minimal resources. Buying disposable sanitary pads is simply beyond their means.
Certified Ambassadors of Women's Health are recruited to educate the girls on their bodily function and menstrual hygiene management. They also teach them self-value in the communities as well as warn them of the potential danger of assault and human trafficking.
The Mission of 'Days For Girls'
The team's objective in Yangon was to introduce the mission of 'Days for Girls' and determine how to reach out to the outlying communities to distribute the DfG kits. The local women leaders, after receiving the training, would return to their provinces, villages, and schools to assess the number of kits needed in their respective communities, and report back to the team.
Upon receiving their feedbacks, DfG in Singapore will produce the DfG kits to meet those needs. The team intends to recruit local volunteers in Myanmar who can be trained and certified as Ambassador of Women's Health to assist in the distribution of the kits in future.
The team is planning more trips to Yangon to establish a closer relationship with the Sandhi Governance Institute, particularly for information exchange and gathering feedback from the girls and women who have received the kits and attended the training last November. Belle Nef said the DfG project would be for the long haul as Myanmar is a large country and the people who need the kits are spread out all over.
Working Committee Established
Meanwhile in Singapore, Belle has established a committee consisting of Euddie Png as co-leader; Sewing Specialists: Jane Tay for bags, Kareen Chin and Jean Kwan for liner & shields; Cutting Specialist: Jessie Tan; Colour Specialist: Tay Chin Joo; Stock Specialist: Valoy Lai; Snap Specialist: Dalicia Leong; Fundraising: Euddie Png; Treasurer: Annabella Leung; Procurement Specialist: Edlina Sia & Michelle Hsieh; Media Specialist: Euddie Png and Susan Chan; Distribution & Correspondence: Belle Nef and Euddie Png; Education Specialist: Woon Chew Yian and Kareen Chin.
Why begin the project in Yangon?
The reason for starting the DfG project in Myanmar was a simple one, Euddie Png said. She knew a person who helped to connect her to the Sandhi Governance Institute, an organization that provides training for local women leaders from different communities and states of Myanmar. From there her team made contact with the local schools, orphanages, and villages.
Euddie Png said, 'Our biggest challenge is not the travel to Myanmar but rather the resources we need to make the kits. We started with nothing; today we have a team with all the skills we need. Hard work and contributions in the form of tools, materials and time by individual members made it all possible. Acquiring the tools and materials will continue to be our major challenge.'
Belle Nef concluded, 'We want to focus on Myanmar and work towards expanding our work beyond Yangon. If the request is more than we can handle, we can get help from elsewhere. DfG has a network of over 900 teams and chapters worldwide.'