Most women and girls will have a menstrual period during their child-bearing years. There’s nothing new about that.
As we planned and prepared over the last two years for our Tenth Triennial Gathering (2017) in Minneapolis in July, the theme All Anew spoke louder to me than any other. The emails and calls we’ve received from women excited about “what’s next” make me believe that’s true for others.
God is in charge of the next new thing. Period. Our work is to see it, understand it and act on it.
Now back to menstrual periods.
Days for Girls is a movement with a mission. The organization is “dedicated to creating a more free, dignified, and educated world, through providing lasting access to feminine hygiene solutions and health education.”
Days for Girls hopes to give every woman and girl in the world access to feminine hygiene by 2022.
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The organization began in 2008 when founder and CEO Celeste Mergens started assisting an orphanage near Nairobi. Violence in the country pushed the orphan population from 400 to 1,400. That led Megens to a nagging question: “What are girls doing for feminine hygiene?” The answer she uncovered was “Nothing.”
The reasons were unthinkable by American standards. What took so long for us to hear about this new thing? For Mergens the new thing was more than about doing something about the problem in a hurry. She wanted to spend time with the vision and develop an approach to reach every girl, everywhere. Period.
‘New things’ take time
Sometimes the new thing—a sustainable ministry–takes time. It’s not always sexy and doesn’t make the news. Even when the next new thing comes along vying for our attention, we have to stick with our plans.
In the Days for Girls cottage at the triennial gathering, I heard stories from women and girls about their journey with feminine hygiene products–or the lack of them. Nothing new? Yes, there was something new. Our stories sounded like stories from sisters around the world. And women and girls felt free to share them.
Still, there was the nagging question of access to feminine hygiene products for all women and girls, including women and girls in the U.S., who are living on the streets. Watch the video below to hear their stories.
God’s plan calls us through our stories in community to build mutual relationships to solve our problems working together. Whether we find our niche locally or globally, God is doing a new thing. Do you see it?
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship for Women of the ELCA. The featured photo is of Keia Morris, Gardena, Calif., sewing hygiene kits for Days for Girls at the Tenth Triennial Gathering in July.