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Days for Girls changes lives

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Tia Berry, Tangi Penrod, Tya Simmons (all of Lantana) and Christi Doleshal (Double Oak), with the Highland Village team of Days for Girls International.
Tia Berry, Tangi Penrod, Tya Simmons (all of Lantana) and Christi Doleshal (Double Oak), with the Highland Village team of Days for Girls International.

Submitted by Janene Nielsen

The Highland Village team of Days for Girls International met on  September 12 in Double Oak Town Hall to complete nearly 400 sanitary supply kits destined for underprivileged women and girls in South Sudan, Uganda and The Congo.

Days for Girls International (DFG) is a grassroots 501(c)3 non-profit with the vision of a world where every girl and woman has feasible access to quality sustainable hygiene & health education by 2022. Due to the lack of feminine hygiene, girls and women miss educational and other opportunities for 60 days of every year.

The Highland Village team was formed by Pamela Moore and Verlanne Johnson with nine board members and hundreds of volunteers across the Metroplex.

“My interest in Days for Girls began in 2013,” said Pamela Moore.  “At that time we were living in Uganda Africa where we served 18 months as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were involved in many humanitarian projects. Most of the people in our area lived in small circular straw-roofed huts without running water or electricity. The poverty and deprived conditions of these wonderful people was heartbreaking.

“In particular, girls without feminine hygiene products suffered tremendously. Can you imagine every month missing five or more school days while you are consigned to sit in a hut on a piece of cardboard or other trash?  This had so many lasting repercussions beyond the failed exams and having to drop out of school. But when girls received DFG’s kits they were overjoyed with a new sense of dignity as well as the ability to continue their education.  Giving a few days back each month through these kits empowers them in so many positive ways.

“One of our most memorable experiences involved traveling with Uganda’s Minister of Relief, Honorable Musa Ecweru to the South Sudanese refugee camps where over 160,000 refugees had fled.  We helped distribute over a thousand blankets, cooking pots and mosquito nets to the most vulnerable.  Honorable Musa asked us if we could do anything to help the women regarding menses.  Without feminine hygiene products the females were prone to disease and serious infections.

darlene-kopta-lantana-melanie-leonard-fort-worth-michelle-muir-flower-mound-brooks-moore-highland-village-churchhill-currently-in-highland-villag“I contacted Days for Girls volunteers throughout the United States who made the hygiene components.  Several months later, two of our sons brought them to Africa. We were then able to work with the Days for Girls – Uganda chapter to organize the materials into over 3,000 kits for the refugee in the camps. When we delivered the kits in the camps, the women and girls joyously stood in long, long lines in the scorching heat to receive their new valued possessions. All of us who participated felt a great sense of satisfaction, even though we could only reach a small percentage of those needing supplies.”

Volunteers from all walks of life, both men and women, have begun contributing in whatever ways they can to this cause.

“I realized that while I am only one, I am one who could make a difference,” said Moore. “I couldn’t do everything, but I could do something to get others interested in this great cause. Now we have hundreds of volunteers in our area as well as Heath, Allen, Fort Worth and Carrollton and Pensacola Florida. They represent many different organizations and churches.”

At the recent kit assembly at Double Oak Town Hall, men helped with sewing, adding the snaps to one of the kit components and with cutting and ripping fabric. An American Airlines captain alone sewed hundreds of flannel strips for reusable pads.

“I strongly believe in wanting to help take care of women and girls, especially with something that is such a personal thing,” said Lisa Crow of Lantana. “This is something that every woman lives with throughout her life, and I was interested in helping to make that easier for women in other parts of the world.”

The personal safety and well-being of women is what motivates Kymberly Nielsen of Flower Mound to help: “I felt like this project was really important because there is so much going on in the world with sex trafficking, and this project allows girls to stay in school where they are safer and less likely to be exploited that way. I enjoyed being part of it.”

The goal of the Days for Girls Highland Village team is to have 1,000 completed kits by October. Many of the kits will be transported and distributed in November by those traveling to Uganda and The Congo. Moore plans to travel with board member Heather Olsen of Double Oak in early 2017 to distribute kits to school girls in South Sudan.

For more information about Days for Girls International and how to volunteer, visit www.daysforgirls.org.

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