Today, October 11th, is the International Day of the Girl. Have you heard of it before? If not, click here to read a post we shared earlier this week and learn more about what this day commemorates.
To follow up and dig a little deeper into the special project we discussed in this post, we are honored to share the following interview with Misty Ropp, spokesperson for Compassion Canada. Enjoy this insider’s peek into the inspiring story of a project helping girls in Uganda, and learn how we can become more involved in this Compassion Canada project and others like it.
(Many thanks to Mikayla from Graf-Martin Communications for giving us the opportunity to get involved and share about this project, and for providing this excellent interview with Misty Ropp).
- International Day of the Girl was established by the United Nations General Assembly. How and when did Compassion Canada become involved?
Through Compassion’s program, we have the great honour of coming alongside so many girls around the world and the issues they face. To our church partners who are actively ministering to these girls, International Day of the Girl isn’t one day a year that they focus on the specific needs of girls—it’s something they do each day as they sacrificially serve their communities. We wanted to shine a light on just one of the amazing things our church partners around the world are doing to champion children—both boys and girls.
- We take sanitary napkins as a basic necessity. What other problems developed because women and girls had none?
Many girls end up dropping out of school because it’s too difficult for them to manage their cycle each month or because they’ve had an embarrassing moment with their peers. In fact, The World Bank estimates that across Sub-Saharan Africa, one in ten girls misses school during their menstrual cycle, and many drop out of school altogether.
In our story, a student named Carol, will never forget the day her cloth pad fell out in front of her classmates while at school. She was so embarrassed that she almost stopped attending school. She said that the other students laughed at her and she felt so ashamed. She ended up not going back to school for two days.
Our church partners have also learned that girls in their communities are trading sex for feminine hygiene products, and can end up becoming pregnant, all as a result of period poverty. As another result of not having access to sanitary products, some girls and women will end up getting sick after using dirty cloths, or even folded up pieces of mattresses in place of a clean feminine hygiene product.
- How did the men become involved?
A group of Compassion Church partners, of which Mulatsi Church of Uganda is a part, applied for funding for menstrual hygiene interventions through Compassion’s Complementary Interventions. They realized that period poverty was one of the serious issue women and girls in their communities were facing. With the funds they received, the churches were able to educate their communities on the importance of menstrual hygiene – and teach their communities how to make sanitary pads.
First, the centre staff learned how to make the reusable pads, and then they conducted training for community members – both women and men!
For these men in Mulatsi, working at a sewing machine and making these sanitary pads to sell, is a regular practice that is strengthening their community, generating income and empowering their daughters.
Before this, the men in the community were largely ignorant to the need and did not see it as their responsibility to provide pads for their wives or daughters. Most of the men did not give their wives money to buy pads, because in most cases, the family just couldn’t afford it. For example, a package of 7 pads is around $1, which is a big expense for families living in extreme poverty.
This project has done a lot to change men’s attitudes towards feminine hygiene. Although the program was led by women, men followed, and are now educating other men on the need and how to make the pads. One of the men involved actually said that through the training, and as a father, he realized that he should learn how to make sanitary pads for his wife and daughters – and his community. So, not only are these men helping combat such a huge issue for the women in their community, but they’re also earning an income.
- Where do the supplies come from to make the napkins?
The initial supplies were provided through the intervention funded by our donors. Now, as people make and sell these products, they are able to buy their own supplies to keep their businesses and activity going in a sustainable way.
- What is the best way for Canadians to become involved in this project?
First of all, becoming aware of the need and praying for girls is a powerful way to allow our hearts to be stirred. When there are so many needs out there and we often feel like these types of things are in ‘far away places’ it’s easy to ignore it or become overwhelmed with what seems like very little we can do. But, this particular project was dreamed up by local churches in Uganda to respond to one of their most felt needs. All of our interventions like this are locally owned and driven according to the needs of that particular community. In other contexts, another solution might work better. We would encourage people who care about the issues facing girls, such as period poverty, to consider sponsoring a girl. Sponsorship affords us the opportunity to truly make a difference in the life of a girl and by extension her family and community. It opens the door for relationship where we can help to show girls that they are loved and valued. When we sponsor, we can know that a local church is ministering to and caring for that girl. They will know and respond to the unique needs she faces based on the context in which she lives, empowering her to become all that God has intended her to be and we get to journey alongside – and that makes a difference.
About Compassion Canada
Compassion Canada has worked with churches overseas to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name for more than 50 years. The global child development organization is linked with nearly 7,000 churches in 25 countries and reaches nearly two million children and their families. Compassion’s is the only child sponsorship program to be validated through independent, empirical research. Learn more at www.compassion.ca.
Misty Ropp is passionate about helping people see their true value and worth, identifying God’s fingerprint on their lives and lavishing God’s love on them.
She works as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Compassion Canada where she is responsible for leading a flourishing culture, empowering and equipping staff to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Misty is married to the love of her life, Darren, and they live in Melrose, Ontario.