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Women lead effort to give Days for Girls a boost

Posted: March 19, 2018

by Laura Straub

For too many girls around the world, life stops for one week out of every month. Whether it is because of religious reasons, stigma or a lack of feminine products, girls are isolated and homebound during their menstrual cycles, often missing school and work. That’s where Days for Girls comes in.

Jill Koubal and Joanna Pretz-Anderson first heard about Days for Girls at a Lutheran women’s gathering, where making menstrual kits was the main hands-on service project. They knew immediately they wanted to bring it home to Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Brecksville, where Koubal is parish nurse and Pretz-Anderson is musical director.

The Days for Girls mission is designed to support a girl through her entire lifecycle, starting with a DfG kit, which includes two washable shields, eight reusable liners, two pairs of panties, one washcloth, a bar of soap and two plastic bags for washing and storage, all contained in a discreet drawstring bag. The shields and liners look just like colorful washcloths when hanging on the clothesline, and they are designed to last for three years.

Washable kits aren’t the only thing Days for Girls provides.

“They do not just provide them with a product, but they also provide them with education for themselves and their community,” said Koubal. “In some situations, they’re able to teach women there how to sew, and then they make their own kits and become entrepreneurial in their community.”

Making a kit is a fairly labor-intensive task, as the more than 50 volunteers who donated time or materials to Koubal and Pretz-Anderson’s project soon found out.

Women of all ages from Christ Redeemer, alongwith their families and friends, and even a few men, joined together on seven meeting dates, beginning Dec. 27 and concluding Feb. 13, to cut material for the shields, pads and bags, finish the edges and stitch everything together. A shield, alone, has three layers of fabric that need to be sewn, including a waterproof layer in the center. Making the bag that holds the supplies takes another 15 minutes.

After more than 300 hours of volunteer time, the group produced more than 50 bags that were donated to areas the national Days for Girls organization deemed most in need. They could have ended up anywhere in the world: Africa, India, Central America or even the United States.

“I have been extremely pleased – not surprised, but pleased – with the response,” said Pretz-Anderson.

Supporting Days for Girls, which has already made a significant impact since it was founded in 2008, was just another way to start the conversation about a World Health Organization identified issue, said Koubal.

“The more we let people know about the need, the more people will say, ‘Oh, this is something worthwhile,’” she said.

Although Koubal and Pretz-Anderson do not have plans for another large-scale Days for Girls project at the church, Pretz-Anderson is continuing to sew remaining fabric donations into usable kits.

“It’s getting the hands-on hard work of sewing one hour to two hours a day,” she said. “Not everyone has those skills, but I do.”

Pretz-Anderson said she located a Days for Girls chapter in Ashtabula to take the kits when complete, as a member of their group visits Namibia for work and can distribute them herself.

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