Partnering During A Pandemic and A Natural Disaster: Highlighting the Helpers

The little group of women who sew Days for Girls washable menstruation kits in our Salvadoran community started the year strong.  They relocated from a women's center outside of the community to the community's Lutheran Church.  This was possible because they had compiled sufficient resources, through their own sales efforts and donations, to purchase a proper table for cutting fabric.  They set up a hygienic storage room in which they can safely keep their completed kits, supplies and equipment.  The new location makes it easier for several of the women to work while their little ones are in the church's preschool.  They can also more easily work from home part of the time.  The women diversified their product line to include baby shower kits with nursing pads made from scraps left over after cutting out the Days for Girls kit pieces.

Newborn Baby Kits

Prior to the enforcement of strict quarantine rules across El Salvador due to the corona virus pandemic, the women in the group took resources from the church to their homes.  For a time, while the fabric held out, they made masks and were able to sell them door-to-door on days when they had permission to go out to shop for food.  Through the system that the church uses to compensate the women in the group for their work, the coordinator was able to get money to the workers in April.

One of the main sources of income for this ministry is through financial donations which come from women in the US.  These donations are routed through the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, where they are used to compensate the women for the kits that they produce for the sex education classes which are taught in public and private schools and Lutheran Churches across El Salvador.  During the pandemic, these education workshops are not taking place. 

Tropical Storm Amanda hit El Salvador hard.  Our Salvadoran community experienced some flooding, but no one lost their home.  Some nearby communities did not fare so well.  Across the country, shelters have been set up to house families which have lost everything.
As communications began to move through the Salvadoran Lutheran Church network, leaders and youth groups began to mobilize.  With (and maybe without) special permission letters, and with unbridled compassion, women and youth in our Salvadoran community collected clothing from their own homes and neighbors.  I received a call from my friend, Sonia.  She wanted to give Days for Girls kits from the stock stored at the church to women and girls in nearby shelters.  Did I think that was a good idea? She really did not need to ask!

Photo taken by a youth in the community

The same day on which I received that call, I noticed that Sonia's daughter made a prayer request in our community's online prayer chain:  Please pray for the families in our community.  We can't go door to door to check on them, and we don't know if they are OK and we think some might not have bread for their table."  These are the same people giving clothes and resources to those who need them.

The donated clothes and Days for Girls kits were loaded up into someone's truck.  One of the youth leaders, who frequently works with Sonia as a health promoter and sex educator, was part of the team orchestrating this whole operation.  Sonia asked her to take photos and to send them to me so I could write a story.  The photos which Laura sent were taken by herself and her team:

Delivering a little bit of clothing and Days for Girls kits
to families in their homes

Delivering kits to the shelter (a local school)

Families are living in classrooms

Some of the women receiving kits for themselves
or their daughters

Families and helpers gather for a group photo

Providing a bit of dry clothing and a menstruation kit to girls and women who have lost everything is an act of love and practicality during this difficult time.  Now, more than ever, the washable feminine hygiene kits are a blessing for girls and women who can't go out and don't have any other way to manage their periods.  Thank you to all who have supported these efforts and who continue to support women's health initiatives like this in vulnerable communities.


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