Water is life. Sanitation is dignity. Those two phrases go together like salt and pepper, or peanut butter goes with jelly. Once you access water, there is a host of outcomes that follow. Sure clean water means healthier villages, happier children, the possibility of new streams of income sources made possible through irrigation or fish farming industry. But there are also some potentially unanticipated but very obvious once you think about them, outcomes that are not quite as marketable.
What happens when you drink that Big Gulp soda on a road trip across the country? You have to stop at the roadside Stuckeys a little more often than you might like. When you drink liquid, you go to the bathroom more often.
Who likes a gas station bathroom? No one I know, but sometimes nature calls and that is the only option. Who likes to run behind a bush? Again, no one, but if that is and always has been the only option, then the reality of airborne disease just increased. It is why diseases like Cholera appear and devastate entire communities at a time.
Water is life. Sanitation is dignity. So what if you are a 12 year old girl, who now has access to water at her school, and maybe even a decent bathroom (read: private)? There might even be a place to wash her hands before returning to class thanks to a simple bucket and spicket system that makes a hand washing station. One thing is guaranteed, there is not a limitless supply of Charmin on hand, let alone a dispensery for a 25¢ feminine product.
Many adolescent girls, who have overcome the odds to stay in school in Malawi, miss one week a month because it is too hard to manage a monthly cycle so far from home, and with conditions at school that are just not practical. They eventually fall behind and drop out.
Faith Phiri of Girls Empowerment Network in Blantyre, Malawi is teaching me a lot about some great solutions that can help. One includes the making of washable, re-useable sanitary napkins. Sewing groups in the States can make them and share them through Watering Malawi’s #GirlPowerMalawi initiative, or with a million different ministries around the world where girls could use a little encouragement.
But, Faith doesn’t stop with just handing things out. She encourages young women to learn to sew and not only making this product available for others girls, but simultaneously create a small industry to sell them! What a brilliant idea! Girls empowering girls.
It is always impressive and inspiring to meet people who are finding solutions to age old problems and actually implementing them in practical ways. If you or your sewing group is looking for a new way to help heal the world you are welcome to join us. Here is the pattern, start sewing! Join us in celebrating this fabulous way of empowering young women to stay in school with a little more dignity. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject: #GirlPowerMalawi