KAYSVILLE — The stories of teenage girls being required to have sex in order to get feminine hygiene supplies sound nightmarish.
But that’s sometimes the case for girls in a slum area of Kenya, according to the organization Days for Girls that is working to supply girls in third-world circumstances with washable feminine hygiene kits and teach them about health, hygiene and safety.
The director of the school sometimes made demands on the girls in that Kenyan village in order to get feminine hygiene products, according to the group.
Girls in third-world countries are often kept from attending school during their monthly cycles, meaning many fall behind in their education and wind up dropping out, getting married and having babies, according to Kaysville resident Julie Treadwell.
She is working with the Kaysville Rotary Club and DfG to host a service day on Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Davis Applied Technology College. Treadwell is asking for volunteers to come and help make hygiene kits that can be taken throughout the world to provide for girls’ needs, so they can finish school.
Treadwell approached Adam Wills, president-elect of the Kaysville Rotary about the project, “and he was so touched he agreed we had to do something,” she said. He told her he believed the project fits in with the mission and goals of Rotary.
Those who want to become involved should go to the east doors of the DATC, 550 E. 300 South, in Kaysville, where they will be greeted and shown to a work area.
The group needs people of all skill levels, and especially would appreciate those who have sewing machines and sergers they can bring and use.
Treadwell said individuals may volunteer for any amount of time from a few minutes to several hours.
She’s hoping that in addition to individuals, various faith groups, civic organizations and businesses will become involved. Studentbody officers from Davis High School have agreed to participate, she said.
While the event is being hosted by a Kaysville organization, Treadwell emphasizes that anyone is welcome to participate, no matter where they live. She hopes that even those attending classes at the DATC who may have a few minutes to wait for a bus spend 15-20 minutes helping out.
DfG Founder Celeste Mergens was volunteering in an orphanage in Africa, when she found that girls there had to stay in a designated hut during their periods. Other girls had to sit on cardboard throughout their cycle, Treadwell said.
“She was appalled and said ‘we can do something about this,’” Treadwell said.
She contacted manufacturers of feminine hygiene products, who supplied items at reduced rates, but the materials the products were made from proved disastrous on latrine systems, Treadwell said.
Mergens started experimenting, and eventually came up with a pattern that could be used with fabric such as flannel, to be made into washable products.
That was in 2008. Today, the nonprofit organization has reached 79 nations on six continents, according to the group’s website daysforgirls.org.
Once assembled, the kits are often distributed by groups such as medical organizations going into villages throughout the world on other projects, Treadwell said. Anyone taking kits into an area is asked give a hygiene presentation when the kits are distributed.
The vision of the organization is to provide “every girl and woman in the world with ready, feasible access to quality sustainable hygiene and health education by 2020,” according to the website.
While the program focuses on teenagers, Treadwell said when the girls take the kits home, their mothers often want one too. Instead of also providing the adult women with kits, the women are trained to make their own. They are then often able to start a business, Treadwell said.
So far, Utah has produced more kits than anywhere else, Treadwell said of the grassroots effort.