Here I come!
December 05, 2016
Marley Hauser wrote -
In 2017 I will be traveling to the small town in South Africa, Memel, with an organization to volunteer for a cause I have always been personally invested in: the empowerment of women and girls. The name of the organization is SheWinS (Sports Helping to Empower Women in South Africa), and its main goal is to give primary school girls (K-7) in Memel outlets where they can invest their free time, expand their confidence, and establish new skills and interests.
Volunteers, like myself, work with local South African athletes and community members to coach soccer and track & field, share music and art, teach math and reading, and implement any additional programs that we believe are valuable for the girls and community.
Prior to the implementation of SheWinS in Memel town, in the adjoining Zamani Township, there were no after-school activities for young girls. There were no sports: they had never been given formal art or music classes and had never seen an athletics stadium. The girls spent their afternoons fetching firewood and water, taking care of siblings, and “hanging out”. Girls suffered exploitation and abuse, including sexual.
SheWinS’ primary activities have grown in number over the past eight years, depending upon the interests and abilities of the girls each year, and the talents and experiences of the U.S. Volunteers. For the first five years the focus was on soccer, tennis and basic exercises including yoga. As the girls became more fit and athletic and more interested in learning and playing, track and field events were added. For the past two years, the tiny Memel Primary School, under the tutelage of the volunteer coaches, has produced two provincial champions, both of whom went on to the National competitions.
Despite all the progress that has been made, there is still much work to be done. One of the major problems the girls face is a lack of feminine hygiene products, specifically when they have their periods. Consequently, unlike their male counterparts, these young girls find it difficult to attend school or practice soccer when they have to deal with the reoccurring issue of this lack of resources. To put this in more blunt terms, their biological makeup acts as a consistent barrier to advancement that their male counterparts do not have to face.
Women and girls around the world face similar problems, and consequently one Indian man has developed a low-cost solution. After witnessing first-hand the impact this lack of everyday resources had on his wife he developed a cheap machine that enabled women to produce their own sanitary napkins. See the article written in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/13/magazine/design-issue-sanitary-pads-india.html?_r=0
SheWinS is working to import this technology into the Memel/Zamani community. If we can raise the necessary funds to import one of these machines, it would create a circle of supply and demand that directly benefits the community and essentially cuts out the third party "big-businness/corporation". Operation of the machine would require the employment of local women who can then sell the sanitary napkins to members of the community. Ultimately the local production and purchase of these napkins keeps money within the community and addresses the persistent lack of hygiene products for young girls and women.
Reaching our goal enables fewer young-girls to miss out on crucial opportunities simply because they have their periods.