Each month, the Red Deer Chapter of Days for Girls meets to sew and create a reusable feminine hygiene care package for girls in third-world nations.
Shelley DeBoon, co-director for Days for girls Red Deer runs the chapter with Darlene Grasdal in Klassic Kennels, where they are able to store all their materials and sewing machines.
“We meet once a month, usually not in December or over the summer, and we have anywhere from usually eight to 20 people that come out on a Saturday and help us sew. For people who don’t know how to sew there are other things to do like fold panties, put tags on the kits, put drawstrings in the bags. It takes three to four hours to make one kit,” explained DeBoon.
It is not an easy undertaking, but many of the volunteers enjoy the work.
“The ladies here love it there’s usually a lot of chatting going on and a lot of laughing,” added DeBoon.
DeBoon says their group is very productive and that many sewers stockpile extra material to continue sewing at home.
The care packages include a small bag with lengthened straps that girls can use as a backpack, a small waterproof pouch for soiled liners, a few cotton flannel liners, two pairs of underwear, a washcloth, and two pads. The materials can easily be washed with regular laundry, and put in the sun to dry and sterilize.
DeBoon says reusable products are easier to manage than disposable where often girls don’t have resources to dispose of them properly and hygienically.
“The biggest benefit is they don’t have landfill sites [in some places]. When you go there, garbage is everywhere and they actually did take over feminine hygiene products from here and they went back and the used ones were just stuffed in fences,” explained DeBoon.
Another benefit is the cost. Feminine hygiene products are often very expensive in third world countries where some women are left with the choice of buying products or feeding their family.
For young girls, having their period marks the beginning of a very difficult time managing school with their monthly cycle.
“They don’t do anything when they’re on their period. They go on their bunk beds and lay on a piece of cardboard till it’s done,” said DeBoon.
Often the work it takes to catch up after missing a week is much too difficult to manage and many girls resort to abandoning their education.
Days for Girls not only provides girls with the resources to manage their period but also the education to understand their cycle.
“We send them with people who are going either on a mission’s trip or they’re going to a third world country and they’re going somewhere that they can use the kits, but all we ask is that they have to train the people when they get there why they even need the kit. Lots of girls don’t even know why they get their period,” explained DeBoon.
In much of the third world, knowledge of the menstrual cycle is hard to come by and extremely misunderstood.
“One girl was getting her period for two years, she thought she was dying of aids until someone from Days for Girls came and told her ‘No this is apart of life. You get your period. It’s a good thing and you’re not dying,” said DeBoon.
DeBoon says that a well-made kit will last about three years and give girls back eight months of their life that would otherwise be wasted waiting for their period to end.
The Red Deer Chapter of Days for Girls is always welcoming new sewers, and volunteers to help create the care packages. To get involved, you can call Shelley DeBoon at 403-340-9020 or email her at email@example.com.