Sunday, March 5, 2017

Days for Girls in El Salvador

A year ago, after the 2016 Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair (learn more here and here), we did a pretty intense evaluation and determined that a charla (educational discussion) about menstruation would be very beneficial for girls, young women, and their families.  We got connected with Days for Girls International and groups in the US started creating the washable feminine hygiene kits.  In August 2016, I wrote a blog story which invited people to help.  The response was fantastic.  By December 2016 we already had received suitcases full of complete kits and kit components, and I wrote a follow-up story.

Just a few weeks ago, we held the 2017 Mission of Healing Family Wellness Fair in four Lutheran Church communities in the Northern Micro-Region of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church.*  The menstruation charla was one of 23 total charlas, and fit into a circle of charlas about sexual and reproductive health.  Pastor Emely of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church did a great job talking with girls and women about the myths and facts of menstruation, and opened up a space for participants to ask questions and to feel comfortable talking about their bodies.  The Days for Girls kits were available to menstruation charla participants, and our target group was girls ages 12 to 25 (though some younger women and some older women also received kits).

Getting ready to give her charla!

With the impressive sewing effort from the sister churches in the US and friendly folks who sent kits to us, we started the week with 345 complete kits for the northern region.  More than 150 of the kits were placed into drawstring bags made by Salvadoran Lutheran Church women.  We ended up with 11 kits without outer bags.  In total, we packed and carried donations of 690 shields and 2760 pads -- all lovingly made with beautiful fabrics according to the Days for Girls instructions.  We carried all of the other kit components:  undies, washcloths, soap, plastic zipper bags and instruction cards.  About 100 of the kits were assembled in the US, and the rest were assembled by our Advance Team in El Salvador.

We also brought some shield and pad fabric, 3 yards of the impermeable fabric for the shields, various shields and pads in different stages of completion, thread, patterns, snaps and the snap application tools so that we could teach Salvadoran Lutheran Church teams how to make the kits themselves.  We ran a small pre-fair workshop and used a borrowed sewing machine to demonstrate the process for making the kits.

In the days immediately following the Family Wellness Fair, our Post Fair Team visited 5 northern region health clinics, where we shared sample kits and explained their use.  At two of the clinics, doctors and nurses expressed interest in learning how to make the kits.  They would love to have them on hand to give out to girls who need them.  One of the Lutheran Churches has already responded to this request and will be holding a two-day training session to teach how to make the kits.  They will use the extra materials we brought, and our team provided a small fund for lunches on those two days.
Explaining the use of the kit to local health clinic personnel

During the past month, youth groups in two of the sister churches (whose US partners had led the efforts in creating the kits) held workshops for girls and youth during which the kits were distributed (neither of these communities hosted a fair this year).  One goal of the youth workshops was to encourage girls who are just starting to have their periods to use the cloth option.  The girls and their moms really enjoyed these workshops, and they have promised to talk with their friends about the kits which should help to popularize their use.

I think we can officially declare the Days for Girls in El Salvador movement a great success!  Thanks to all who supported the efforts for 2017.  Of course, we are already planning for 2018!!  There are a number of ways in which you, your church group, or your Girl Scout Troop can help:


  • Go to the Days for Girls web site and learn about the program.
  • Make kits!  For 2018 we plan to purchase the soap in El Salvador, and we again hope that the drawstring bags can be made by Salvadoran Lutheran Church groups.  We are asking groups to ASSEMBLE the kits in the US according to the instructions provided by Days for Girls, and we will add the soap and slip the kit into its outer bag in El Salvador.
  • Do a fund-raiser to help with the purchase of materials.
  • Go on a shopping spree for Undies!!  (Girls sizes 10-14)
  • US churches with sister churches in El Salvador are encouraged to connect with their partners to learn if they have interest in receiving Days for Girls kits.  If you are connected through the Lutheran Church, Pastor Emely and Pastor Conchi can help provide the proper training/charla to accompany the distribution of the kits.

Our team created a power point presentation which can be used both as a report for 2017 and a promotion for 2018.  If you would like access to the presentation, send me an email message (which you can do if you are subscribe to my blog via email).

These girls had a little fun shouting "No más kotex!"


*A second Mission of Healing Fair was held in the Central South Micro-Region.  The format is significantly different than in the Northern Micro-Region, but the menstruation charla and distribution of Days for Girls kits were a highlight in that setting too!  When we receive Days for Girls kits from friends and churches outside of our sister church network, we share the kits between the two regions.  I help coordinate the events in the north, but I believe the group for Central South had about 200 additional Days for Girls kits which they distributed during their event.

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