Friday, December 30, 2016

Kits for Girls

The plans for the Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair are well in place for February 2017.  One new teaching discussion that we will have in the coming year is entitled "Menstruation:  Myths and Facts."  As part of the teaching charla, we hope to offer the girls and women washable hygiene kits.  We are using the patterns and instructions from Days for Girls International and we invited women and women's groups to help create the kits.

The response has been tremendous!  We should have close to 500 kits for the North alone! (depending on how the January sewing events go).

Because the kits are sure to be wildly popular, we encourage continued and increased involvement!  The Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair model takes us into different rural communities in the Northern region each year.  The Central South Fair is held in the capital city, and people are bused into a central location.  In both settings, women and girls will continue to need kits.  The kits are designed to last for 3 years, but we know that with good care, the women and girls will be able to use the pads and liners for longer than that.  The challenge is that there are literally thousands of girls and women in our sister church communities who need these kits!  With limited supply, we will focus on those who are most in need and have little or no access to traditional feminine hygiene products.

We are working in concert with our Salvadoran partners.  They are busy sewing the drawstring bags which will hold the kits.  During the upcoming Mission of Healing events, we will hold a training day on which Salvadoran women (and men!) will learn how to make the kits for themselves.  This is an important part of making this a sustainable project.

There is so much enthusiasm for this project!  And not just from menstruating girls and women.  We have received requests for the kits from older women who experience urine leakage.  This is another health issue which people do not talk about (in the US too!).  Adult protection for this problem is very expensive and not really available.  In past years, we have often stuffed suitcases full of adult disposable products, but would it not be much better to provide women with a washable option? And, of course, we now have heard from men who also are interested in having some kind of kit like this for their leakage issues.

Creating washable, sanitary products for menstruating women and girls is our primary focus.  Perhaps there will be a time when we are able to provide kits for other purposes, but for now, it is all about Days for Girls!
This is what a suitcase full of 900 pads looks like!
Learn more by visiting the Days for Girls web site.  To send kits or donations in support of the efforts of the Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fairs, please contact me via email or in the comment section.  Share your photos in the comments too!!

(In case you missed the link up top, find the original posting about this project here.)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Unexpected Christmas Images

Whenever I am in El Salvador in November, I marvel at the early abundance and diversity of Christmas decorations which adorn public spaces and homes alike.  Even in the churches, congregations deck their halls and light up the Christmas trees well before the first week of Advent.

Stores advertise their "Black Friday" or "Black Evening" sales.  This is hilarious to me since there is no Thanksgiving celebration nor actual "Black Friday" as a day off from work on which to go shopping.  Giant inflatable Santas are put out in parking lots and reindeer made from straw sit out on sidewalks.  The competition among businesses is stiff as they entice customers to spend their aguinaldo (thirteenth month pay - an early December bonus paid to workers in the formal economy).

Despite the clear commercial element to the early decorating, I think there is truly a great deal of joy which the Salvadoran people have in decorating and lighting things up in anticipation of Christmas.   It's a happy time when everyday cares can be set aside, when the worries over all of the great and serious challenges within Salvadoran society are overcome for a bit by twinkling lights and cheery tunes.

Here are just a few images which I captured this year...enjoy!!

Buy your pre-lit Christmas trees here!  Yes, culturally appropriate palm trees are
available!  And, of course, if you don't have giant poinsettia bushes (pascua) growing outside of
your home in the countryside, you can buy these hot-house potted versions.

Christmas cookies!  Gingerbread boys and girls for dessert at a little pizza place near the UCA.

Your eyes do not deceive you - this is a Christmas tree made from empty beer
bottles!  This tree can be found at the Cadejo Microbrewery in San Salvador.

Merry Christmas from the FMLN!  Their colors of red and white lend
themselves to holiday cheer.  This is the office in Tonaca.

Christmas tree in our sister church community.  The cards on the tree
were made by preschool Sunday School children in the US

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Sea of Flowers

Day after day the green grass grows taller, little by little hiding the roadside landscape such that the San Salvador volcano appears to emerge as an island in a sea of green, and the distant hills of Guazapa seem truncated from their base.

Day by day we drive the well-worn route along the periferico - the peripheral highway that carries us from San Salvador north.  When the grass is short and the air is clear we take photos along the way, catching a quick glimpse of the San Vicente volcano in the distance or the cloud formations over Guazapa.  As the years have gone by, large factories, a trucking corral, and tightly packed rows of houses surrounded by concrete walls have invaded the landscape, yet the grass continues to thrive.

One day, unexpectedly, the grass produced blooms - big, white, feathery blooms that gleam in the sunlight.

Our pastor tells us that this valley has been planted with sugar cane for as long as he can remember, as long as his father can remember.  Before there were trucks or or factories or the highway or even the diesel power plant, this valley held water and was planted with cane.

The sun sank low as we drove back to San Salvador.  Ahead of us, the road seemed to end in a sea of white gold as the sunlight skipped along the tops of the sugar cane blooms.  "It's always like that," our pastor said, "one day there are no blooms, then suddenly the whole valley is a sea of flowers."