by Alison Fraser | Sep 6, 2016 | Casting a Wider Net, Education, Feminism, Girls, Health, Human Rights, Puberty, Social Good, The Advocates of Human Rights, World Moms Blog, World Voice
Last April, I traveled to Nicaragua, staying in the Chinandega, Managua and Granada regions of the country. I have traveled to many places, but never to Central America so I was really excited to embark on this new adventure. Nicaragua is famous for its volcanoes (including volcano boarding) and its amazing waterfront beaches where surfing is a must. It’s rich history, unique culture and incredible people make it an idea travel destination.
But Nicaragua has undergone many transformations over the years, rebuilding from internal unrest and strained global relations. Almost half of the Nicaraguan population lives below the poverty line. People struggle to provide the basic necessities to their children, and for many young girls, this can mean having to miss school when their periods start.
Just before going to Nicaragua, I met an amazing woman, Brenda Porter, living in my community who runs the local chapter of ‘Days for Girls’. I had never heard of the organization before reading about Brenda in the local newspaper. As the name suggests, Brenda and her countless volunteers, dedicate most of their free time to making and assembling sustainable menstruation kits, that are then brought all over the world to communities in need. With access to the menstruation kits, girls can attend school all year round, not missing school because of their periods. Missing a week of school per month has a huge impact on the educational success of girls. It means they are put at a disadvantage as soon as puberty hits. I connected with Brenda, and with the support of my friends, travel companions and Brenda’s incredible ‘Days for Girls’ network, I was able to bring two suitcases full of menstruation kits to Nicaragua free of charge.
With the help of the owners of the eco-resort I stayed at, El Coco Loco, we were put in touch with an American nurse’ Margarite (Meg), who runs a health clinic in a rural area outside Chinandega (http://coenicaragua.weebly.com/). She was thrilled to receive the kits and held a sexual education clinic for local village girls before distributing the kits. She was so overwhelmed by the response of local girls to the kits, and had no idea that there was such a need in the community.
Days For Girls
Days for Girls is a global organization. If you are travelling to countries where girls may be in need of the menstruation kits, I highly recommend reaching out to this wonderful organization. No girl should be put at a disadvantage in school when her period starts. And, if you have a local chapter nearby, please consider donating time to help cut material, sew pads and assemble kits.
For more information, please visit: www.daysforgirls.org
This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.
Picture Credits to the author
Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.
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by Jennifer Iacovelli | Mar 24, 2015 | 2015, Awareness, Kids, Social Good, Water, World Voice
Sunday, March 22nd was World Water Day, a day to celebrate water and bring awareness to the fact that far too many people still lack access to safe water and toilets.
One in ten of the world’s population lives without safe drinking water and 40% do not have adequate sanitation. These statistics are staggering to me considering water is our most precious resource. Water is life. How could something so simple be so scarce for so many people on our planet?
I traveled to Nicaragua last year during World Water Day and spent a week with WaterAid America seeing their work on the ground in the remote indigenous communities there. It was a life-changing trip that taught me how much we take for granted here in the United States.
I got to spend time with a woman named Linda who opened up her house to me and my team. Linda’s home had no electricity or running water, yet she made us feel comfortable. We watched as she used the skills she learned from WaterAid to build and maintain wells for her community. These skills helped her earn money so she could buy her children basic things like shoes and books for school. She’s like any other mother, wanting to provide for her children first.
We slept under mosquito nets and ate food cooked over a fire with only the light of a headlamp once the sun went down. We used the toilet Linda built outside her home and dodged wandering farm animals as we walked. Linda took us to see where she keeps her crops via a dugout canoe. Her granddaughter, Exelia, collected vegetables and flowers in her dress, handing me some of my own every so often. We did not speak the same language, but we could communicate.
When I got back from my trip, I wrote about it on my blog and I talked about it a lot with my kids. I wanted them to understand that life in other countries does not always look and feel the same as ours. When I realized World Water Day was coming this year, I asked their teachers if I could come in and talk about the importance of water and toilets in our lives. They welcomed me with open arms.
My youngest is in kindergarten and my oldest is in fourth grade. To cut down on the inevitable giggles that might come from too much “potty talk,” I decided to take the simple approach of showing the kids photos from my trip. They reacted to the photos and asked lots of questions. I chose photos that showed the type of toilets, wells and catchment systems that were being built by the people of Nicaragua with the help of WaterAid America.
We talked about how diseases can spread if people don’t have a clean and sanitary place to go to the bathroom or if you don’t practice good hygiene. We talked about the need to build more wells and systems so that women and girls could spend their days working and going to school instead of walking for miles to fetch water. We talked about how unsafe water can make people very sick and how water filtration systems could help.
I also showed photos of kids in school and swimming, baseball players, toothbrushes and children’s artwork. We talked about how while the kids might live differently in Nicaragua, they were still very much like them. They laughed and played and enjoyed things like baseball and drawing. The fourth graders smartly wondered if they could use the wind, water and sun to help power the communities I had visited. They quickly understood that developing countries might not have enough money and resources to replicate what we have in America. In both classrooms, we talked about how if we know about the problems in the world and we already are living with solutions, we could share that knowledge with others and help.
Even elementary schools kids can be global citizens.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer Iacovelli of Anotherjennifer.
Do you think your kids understand how precious our water resources are?
Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and nonprofit professional. Based in Brunswick, Maine, she’s a proud single mom of two boys and one Siberian husky. Jennifer is the author of the Another Jennifer blog and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. Jennifer is also a contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOOD, BlogHer, USAID Impact, Feed the Future and the PSI Impact blog. Her latest book, Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day, is available everywhere. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome kids and bacon, though not necessarily in that order.
by Jennifer Burden | Oct 28, 2014 | 2014, Health, Nicaragua, World Voice
What would it be like to see the impact that our donations make in places around the world that need it most? And what would it be like to be able to do that with your partner? I don’t travel as much as I would love to because although longer-term trips can be amazing, I find it difficult to leave my kids for more than a few days at a time. I’ve given that a whirl before. But recently, a really unique opportunity called the “AmeriCares Airlift 2014” presented itself. The event took my husband and I to Nicaragua for a 24 hour social good trip. Yep, only 24 hours! The experience was all due to the generosity of my husband’s employer, Cognizant, who has financially supported the global health work of AmeriCares for years.
The event began at Westchester Airport in New York on September 20th. I checked in wearing heels and went through a security check for the plane that was donated to the event by Sun Country airlines. By the way, did I mention, we were also celebrating our wedding anniversary on the trip?
One hundred of the 850 gala guests would be boarding the plane at the end of the night to Nicaragua, and those 100 were given flashing bracelets at check-in.
The casual airport hangar had been magically turned into a fancy gala. We sat with the Cognizant table, where I got to meet some of my husband’s coworkers, who were excited to tell us about AmeriCares Airlifts of years past and what to expect. We were excited, and yet, nervous, too!
The event included Nicaraguan music, and afterwards we set our attention on this very video about AmeriCares relief efforts in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan. Emotions were flying. It was engagement with people like Jen in the video below that led to the Airlift Benefit raising over $2 million dollars for everyday global health issues and relief efforts!:
Jen’s story was heartfelt and amazing, and she was even in attendance at the event from the Philippines! Authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, spoke next at the event about their latest book, “A Path Appears.” They noted that the same part of the brain that enjoys sex and chocolate is the same part of the brain that makes us want to give. So interesting, right? I was excited to hear from the duo because I had read and cherished “Half the Sky”, the book about human trafficking that they coauthored, which helped further motivate my activism for women and children worldwide.
In fact, just this past week, I got to meet Nicholas Kristof at the AYA Summit in Washington, DC. I explained that I had heard him speak last month at #Airlift2014, and he was genuinely excited to hear how the 24 hour trip to Nicaragua was. Kristof said he always wondered what that trip would be like. I told him that he should join them on the flight next time!! Could you imagine being on a social good trip with Nick Kristof??? My fingers would be crossed to be in his group, so I could hear his questions to the people we met along the way!
We also heard from long-time AmeriCares supporter and actor, Tony Goldwyn, who plays the President on Scandal. Tony became the first celebrity spokesperson for Americares. And Erica Hill of NBC MCd the event. Time flew by before they announced that it was time to board the flight. Steve and I quickly headed to the makeshift airport hangar changing rooms to change into clothes for the flight. It was go-time!
We were divided into 4 color-coded groups. my husband and I were in the blue group. Our group indicated what bus we were to ride once in Nicaragua and what places we’d be visiting. Each bus visited 3 health facilities. Because there were 4 buses, we all didn’t visit the same ones. The flight went quick because I knew we wouldn’t be getting very much sleep, so I tried to keep my eyes closed the entire time. If I wasn’t sleeping, I’d at least be relaxing to be able to take in the importance of the site visits. Once we arrived in the middle of the night in Managua, our bus took us to our hotel, where we were able to get 4-5 hours more sleep.
Early in the morning, we met the entire group for breakfast in a hotel conference room and were briefed on Nicaragua. The statistic that is still singed into my heart is that “2 out of 3 pregnancies are unwanted” in the country. It is even difficult to write. I thought it was a typo. But, as the day went on, I’d learn that it was true…
Stay posted to WorldMomsBlog.com for Part II of Jennifer Burden’s adventure to Nicaragua with AmeriCares and #Airlift 2014 on behalf of Cognizant.
Photo credits to the author.
Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.
She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.
Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.
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