Teresa has gone to Guatemala several times on humanitarian expeditions with Smiles for Life. Before her latest trip, she saw a TV segment that showed people working in a developing country and they had brought reusable feminine hygiene products. That sparked an instant awareness. She realized that, though she travels frequently, she has never thought about menstruation while traveling before.
She immediately called CHOICE Humanitarian and learned about our partnership with Days for Girls and how girls have few options for managing menstruation and that many girls, and even women, don't understand their bodies. This impacts their ability to stay in school and therefore their ability to be wage earners.
Feeling inspired, Teresa decided to personally make 50 of the kits that the group would bring with them to Guatemala.
When she arrived at the school where the Days for Girls training was to be held, she knew that she had done the right thing by helping to organize this training as part of a trip that was meant to focus on dental work only.
The classroom was filled with both girls and women. Someone counted 110 people, but the room just kept filling up and soon became standing room only. The decision to have that class there was only made the night before. Clearly, word travels fast and these women were excited about the options and freedom that these kits would provide.
The experience was eye-opening. "I didn't realize how difficult this already difficult process was for these women. They have zero options," said Teresa. "This training and these kits won't just make their day, but possibly change their lives. It was a big aha moment.”
Theresa commented on how humbling it was to realize the size of the need. But she went on to say that you can't let the size of the need stop efforts. "Everyone can do something. It doesn’t have to be big, the greatness is in the collaborations," said Teresa. If you look at what is being done in the world, there are a lot of people doing small acts and they add up.
As Teresa points out, there are many ways to participate. People can buy fabric, gather coupons, sew, or organize groups. "The need is huge and once you step in and help, you'll want to do more. It gets at your heart to know that people now have options that we take that for granted. It's really inspiring"
Theresa admits that buying the kits would have been easier. Making kits by yourself is a big ask - overwhelming even. However, "that was the miracle of the experience. Spending the time, money and investing the energy into making the kits and then personally handing them out to girls who had zero options is a life-changing experience because you know this resource and information brings options.