About seven months after my teenage daughter passed away, I decided to start a Days for Girls chapter in my town. I had the opportunity to go to Dominican Republic on a doTERRA trip, and ended up helping distribute Days For Girls Kits with them and my sister Emili. I was trying to get my passion back in life after the loss of my daughter, and Days For Girls was just the thing to inspire me! I witnessed first-hand, the amazing effect that education and hand-sewn menstruation kits could have in the lives of teen girls, in strengthening their self-worth, keeping them in school and from exploitation. I knew it was just the thing my daughter would have loved to help with.
I had already committed to traveling with my husband, Mike, and 3 of our children to Bolivia on his annual humanitarian trip, and some of my siblings were planning to come with some of their children. I knew we would have extra luggage space. So I told Mike I wanted to create some Days For Girls kits to distribute in Bolivia on our trip. He thought it was a great idea, and so did my sister, Emili, who was coming on that trip too, and speaks fluent Spanish. So I knew we could do it, and I set an ambitious goal of 1000 kits.
I got online on the Days For Girls website, and signed up as a chapter leader and enrolled in their online course. I posted on Facebook about it, and several people volunteered to help me. I announced it to my women’s church group, and they were very enthusiastic about helping. I scheduled one project a month at my church from 11 AM to 6 PM (although, I think 3-8 PM is a better time for those people who work), and posted the events on JustServe.org. I printed out all the patterns and information, to put into a notebook. I printed the shield and pocket patterns off on cardstock.
I created a couple 4×6 glossy cards on PicMonkey.com and had them printed at Walgreens.com for 10 cents a piece, to hand out and post around town. One of the cards had information about the upcoming events, and the other had a list of the items we needed donated. These were great to hand out to people, and educate them about the project and our needs.
I hadn’t done a whole lot of promoting when we had the first event, so only a few people came. But more people came to the second event, and the word started spreading around town. More and more people offered to help and brought donations of fabric, soap, underwear, washcloths, ziploc plastic bags, and money. I bought 1000 kits worth of PUL (a 50 yd roll of waterproof fabric), DFG bag labels, and ribbon for the bag handles.
I started telling all my friends and everyone I spoke with, about what I was doing. I received more and more support. I started assigning out packs of materials to be cut, for people to take home. I created a sign up form to pass around at church, and gauge people’s skill levels and see what they were willing to help with. This worked really well, but I quickly realized how HUGE my goal really was, and how hard it was to sew and put together so many pieces to each kit. I had lots of people working on pieces, but it finally dawned on me that we would be lucky to create several hundred kits ourselves, even with my sister’s help in her town.
I was talking about it in the Facebook Chapter Chat group one day, and a lady on there offered to donate 100 finished kits to our trip. I was overjoyed. But I knew that wouldn’t be enough. Nevertheless, I continued to move forward in faith. I decided to apply to my company’s charitable foundation (doTERRA’s Healing Hands) for some financial help. After, assuring them that 100% of the funds would go toward kit and education materials, they agreed to match whatever funds we can raise before our trip (June 24th, 2016).
My community, in conjunction with other local communities, have worked so hard to create so many kits! A group from up north of us, one of the largest DFG chapters in the world (Provo/Orem, UT), helped me get 600 kits to take. And then I spoke with a woman just west of our town, and her community had just donated 500 kits to the Provo chapter, not knowing that we were going on this trip. So I am making more connections, and everyone is helping each other to accomplish amazing things!
When I heard all this, I knew we would be able to reach our big goal! After all, if you don’t set a big goal, you probably won’t reach it. So as of now (2.5 weeks before our trip), we have about 800 kits and lots of materials to be cut, sewn and returned to me. I think it’s the liners we will need to focus on, because of the sheer quantity of them needed (8 in every kit). So over the next two weeks, we will be working on raising more funds, and sewing 1600 liners. Whew!
I’m so excited to help so many young women in Bolivia, who don’t have the resources and options we have in more developed countries. The grateful faces of the girls in DR are burned in my memory, and I feel responsible to teach and help more of them around the world. In fact, I’ve had several women in my community say that they’ve always dreamed of going on a humanitarian trip. So if we can continue making kits, I may take an additional trip to Nicaragua, where we have contacts also. It’s in Central America, and it’s cheaper to fly there. So maybe we will go there too sometime!
If you are thinking of serving and empowering young women around the world by getting involved with Days For Girls, go for it! It’s not that hard to start. You can just follow the steps I took, and if you want to sew some pieces and mail them, you can do that too! We would love your help. All you have to do, is get educated about it, get the word out to your community, and people will come out of the woodwork to help you.
Here are more details of what I did in getting started. I bought flannel when it was on sale for 60% off at Joann’s. I bought a Brother serger on Amazon, for my kids and I to use to make the liners (under $200).
Here is a list of the items I bought at Joann’s (they have online sales too):
- Flannel, in cheerful but darker colors (on sale around $3 yd)
- Scissors, several pairs
- Rotary cutters (ergonomic roller cutters, with a round blade)
- Self-healing mats (the bigger the better)
- Acrylic rulers (for cutting with rotary cutters)
- Thread for sewing machine and serger
- Drawstring bag threaders ($3 each)
- 100% Cotton fabric
After using the rotary cutters for a while now, and seeing how fast they get dull, I’m thinking of investing in an electric one on Amazon that looks awesome (see it here).
So now I’ve done several bigger size events at my church, and a bunch of smaller events for other church groups and at my home. I actually converted our basement “school” room, which we never really used for school, into a Days For Girls workroom. I had a dozen people working in it last week, and we got lots done!
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my daughter’s death, so she has been on my mind so much as we are traveling to Bolivia, and preparing to distribute all these kits. I will keep you posted on how our trip goes. Thanks for reading this article, and learning new ways to help these sweet girls around the world. If you would like to help, please CLICK HERE to donate much needed funds (whatever you can afford). Thanks so much!