How high school students are making a difference in the lives of their peers from 13,000 km away

Girls in Kenya are often forced to miss school on the days of their menstrual cycle if they do not have access to the necessary feminine hygiene products or suitable toilet facilities at school. ABW’s Girls Need You project focuses on providing girls with reusable feminine hygiene kits as well as bringing attention to the barriers that period poverty present to so many girls around the world.

In March of this year, the Girls Need You project caught the eye of Fraser Valley Adventist Academy’s Social Justice 12 class. The grade 11 and 12 students, led by their teacher Mrs. Kalmani Huether-Amoah, invested themselves completely to support their peers at the Naikarra Primary School from over 13,000 km away. They set a goal to raise $1,000 to supply girls at Naikarra with feminine hygiene kits by June 2021.

The Social Justice 12 class of Fraser Valley Adventist Academy – Aldergrove, BC

Mrs. Amoah said that initially what drew the class to this project was its connection to education: “My students’ motivation continues to inspire me, as they plan meal fundraisers and events to bring awareness to this cause.”

She added that this project will also improve the quality of life for many women in Kenyan communities because it supplies jobs to local sewing groups while also bringing necessary supplies for girls to continue their education. “Educating students on the importance and use of feminine hygiene products is very key in all settings,” said Amoah.

Zoe Park, a grade 11 student in the Social Justice class said, “I became interested in the ‘Girls Need You’ project when Mrs. Amoah, my social justice teacher, first introduced us to this project and it immediately grabbed my attention because as a girl, I have experienced the painful sides of the menstrual cycle.” Park added that the fundraising and project itself can also help to normalize the talk of menstrual cycles and products among the general population.

Alex Gunning, a financial associate grade 11 student said, “What we are doing as a team will put a smile on people’s faces.” Gunning also mentioned that out of the many projects they were considering, the Girls Need You project had a sustainable goal which was to make the feminine products accessible to girls who had to miss school due to their periods. “Our end goal is to raise enough awareness about this campaign to those who have not heard about this.” Gunning thinks that this project will improve the quality of life for girls at Naikarra because these kits will give them the ability to not be afraid or uncomfortable to attend school during their period.

Dylen Jovanovic Marin, student and social media advertiser said, “The idea of providing something that seems so small compared to other things in society, to someone who needs it is very special to me.” Marin said that figuring out how to advertise the project on social media and make it such that it grabs the attention it deserves was a challenge. However, the class faced the challenge of advertising, fundraising during Covid-19, and bringing attention to the cause very well—by June 2021, they exceeded their fundraising goal by nearly $200.

500 kits, funded by FVAA and several Girls Need You partner donors, were delivered to Naikarra Primary School in June 2021

Less than a week after the class finished their fundraising, 500 feminine hygiene kits were delivered to the Naikarra Primary School upper-grade girls. Jacinta, a local community health nurse, gave the girls a short talk on the importance of feminine hygiene as well as how to care for and maintain the kits.

The effort and enthusiasm of students always inspires us, and we believe these young people will continue to strive to make our world a better place where the basic needs of all are met.

Written by Ali Aqeel
Edited by Jacqui McCarty