2 Southern Utah organizations join together to create, deliver menstrual health kits

A woman teaches girls from Hapu Q'ero village in Peru, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Penelope Eicher, Heart Walk Foundation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Heart Walk Foundation is partnering with the Days for Girls-St. George chapter to help create menstrual health kits and provide education on menstrual cycles to girls and women in underserved communities.

A teen girl from Hapu Q’ero village in Peru opening her Days for Girls kit, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Penelope Eicher, Heart Walk Foundation, St. George News

According to Plan International, 88 percent of girls and women around the world don’t have access to sanitary products.

In an effort to address this issue, earlier this year the St. George-based Heart Walk Foundation accepted 25 menstrual health kits donated by Days for Girls. The foundation, which has dedicated itself to working with Andean communities on projects pertaining to education, food supplies, sustainable development and physical and dental health, delivered the kits to the high altitude villages of Peru during its July expedition.

Penelope Eicher, co-founder of Heart Walk Foundation, said she knows providing these kits is essential after seeing how well they were received by the women and girls in the villages, but their work is far from done. Because the kits were so well received and in order to provide more than just 25 kits, Heart Walk Foundation volunteer members partnered with the St. George chapter of Days for Girls to help make the kits.

Demaree Johnson, St. George Chapter co-lead for Days for Girls, said these kits aren’t just your regular hygiene kits.

“They include supplies that girls and women can use that are reusable because so many countries don’t have disposal or garbage areas,” Johnson said.

Screenshot of a diagram showing what’s inside a Days for Girls menstrual health kit | Screenshot via daysforgirls.org, St. George News

The majority of the kit is also sewn and consists of two waterproof shields, eight absorbent liners made from flannel, two pairs of panties, one bar of soap and washcloth, two Ziploc bags for washing and storage and instructions for the kit.

According to Days for Girls website, the kits are usually sewn with bright-colored fabric to camouflage staining. The liners also unfold to look like washcloths, allowing women to wash and dry them outside without feeling embarrassed.

The kits made by Heart Walk Foundation volunteers will be delivered in person to native Q’ero women and girls in Andean villages.

The other kits made by local Days for Girls volunteers will mostly be delivered to Africa, Eicher said, but the kits can go to other countries where they’re needed as well.

Johnson said besides the tangible kits, they provide education for those who need them.

“In many places the girls and women don’t really understand why they have their menstrual cycle,” she said.

Days for Girls International requires people who deliver the kits to partake in an online training course that covers the following topics:

  • Education on menstrual cycle.
  • Promoting menstrual hygiene management.
  • Puberty.
  • Female and male reproductive systems.
  • Domestic violence and sex abuse.
  • Self defense.
  • Human trafficking.

Eicher said the next batch of Heart Walk Foundation-made kits will be delivered in May or June 2019, where volunteers will hike to remote villages to deliver them.

A volunteer from Hurricane helps sew a menstrual health kit, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Penelope Eicher, Heart Walk Foundation, St. George News

Depending on the amount of volunteers during events, Johnson said the kits can take anywhere from three to four hours to make. The kits are usually made in an assembly line-like process, and for volunteers who don’t know how to sew, there are still tasks available like putting the kits together.

A lot of the material for the kits are donated, and the approximate cost of each kit is $10, Johnson said.

If people would like to volunteer to help create the kits, Johnson said they can contact stgeorgeutah@daysforgirls.org. Days for Girls also holds free monthly events at Quilted Works to help create the kits, with the next one being Nov. 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Eicher said that having Days for Girls and Heart Walk Foundation work together has been beneficial for for both organizations.

“It’s uplifted everyone involved to have our organization not only helping but having a direct connection with the girls who are receiving these kits.”

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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