Hope for poor menstruating girls

One of my hardest lessons in recent years has been what 19th Century Saint Therese of Lisieux called “The Little Way”. She was a simple Catholic nun who came to a profound understanding of the fact that change – redemption if you like – occurs only as we embrace The Little Way and embark on a life of small, intentional acts of love and compassion and repeat them often. If like me you wish to see and even be a part of big and immediate personal and societal change then this is a very bitter pill to swallow – particularly in a country with so many issues. Take education as an example. Captured in a recent front page article entitled “Matric drop-out rate ‘scary’”, the state of education in South Africa is a genuine concern for most of us but seemingly too vast to do anything about. But the question we must ask is, what does such a vast issue look like in the context of the Little Way? Enter the humble sanitary pad. More than 60% of girls in our country stay away from school for up to a week during their period simply because they cannot afford sanitary products. Over the course of a year these young ladies could feasibly miss between 70 and 80 days of school. This contributes to the vast numbers of school kids who enroll in grade 2 but who drop out before Matric. Enter Sue Barnes – founder of non-profit organisation Project Dignity which distributes Subz Pads and Pants. These are fully washable, reusable sanitary pad-cum-pantie sets designed specifically for less privileged girls. A pack containing 2 100% cotton panties and 6 ultra-absorbent, multi-layered washable pads costs just R130 and will last for 3 years. This is a classic example of the Little Way becoming the big way. Just R130 can change a young girl’s life and provide her with the products she needs to keep attending school. As a result of recent events that led to the writing of this post (the original version appeared in The Mercury) The Peace Agency will be partnering with Project Dignity to help provide more girls with washable sanitary pads. We will begin by supporting an existing initiative working into needy schools around Richards Bay and we will go from there. If you would like to sponsor a Project Destiny girl at R130 for a 3 year supply of washable, reusable sanitary pads please contact me on justin@peaceagency.org.za Let us do this together so that the Little Way may one day become the big way. This column is dedicated to the memory of 17 year old Anene Booysens: gang raped, mutilated and murdered.