Seattle group sewing feminine hygiene kits for African girls

Oct 18, 2016, 6:10 PM | Updated: 8:21 pm
feminine hygiene kits...
A multi-religion coalition sews feminine hygiene kits for African girls so they don't have to miss school. (Roger Nelson, Flickr)
(Roger Nelson, Flickr)
LISTEN: Seattle group is sewing feminine products for African girls, so they can attend school

On a recent Monday morning, a group of women sit in a Seattle dining room, sewing, drinking coffee and chatting. Even though it’s Monday, some of them are known as the Saturday Sewing Sisters, and they gather to sew feminine hygiene kits that they will hand deliver to girls living in villages in Cameroon, Africa.

“In many parts of the world, girls miss a significant amount of school during their menstrual cycle for lack of product,” says Alfreda Lanier. “So we feel strongly that we can impact their lives and allow them to get the education that will empower them to change their circumstance.”

Lanier says they delivered 1,200 kits to schoolgirls in five villages last year, and they have another delivery mission coming up in December. While they’re there, they teach the girls how to use the pads, they do a course on sex education and even teach self defense.

“If you don’t have the product, you’re not going to want to go to school,” Lanier said. “It’s not that they’re not allowed. But if they do go, they often are taken advantage of by, sometimes, male teachers, other men in the village. They will exchange product for sex. Therefore, the girls are exposed to exploitation, early pregnancy, even marriage.”

Feminine hygiene kits for African girls

The sewing project started with just 16 women at the First AME Church, but has since expanded to include Jewish and Muslim volunteers. Rabbi Elana Zaiman got involved with the project a few months ago.

“They have enough kits for all the girls in the school. They have to. Every girl gets a kit,” explains Rabbi Zaiman. “It’s taboo to have your period. The idea is that with these kits, and with every girl having them, they all bring them to school every day whether they have their period or not.”

“No one knows who has it or who doesn’t,” she said. “And everyone can feel very comfortable. As you can see, the material is all different colors, beautiful, to hide the stains, so when they’re hanging to dry [no one in the] family is aware of when the child has her period.”

Rabbi Zaiman says an amazing side effect of the project has been the multicultural community they’ve established.

“With this world the way it is and with the anti-Muslim sentiment and the racist sentiment, especially in the election frame we are in, I’m disgusted by it,” Zaiman said. “We need to begin working together.”

“It’s brilliant, actually,” she added. “We’re doing a project that is not for any of us, it’s for all of us. And it’s not really for us, it’s for other girls elsewhere. It’s a beautiful thing to all join in to do together. I’m moved by that and I’m then moved by the fact that because we’re doing this all together, relationships are happening and we’re building. We just went to First AME church the other day for a service, they will be coming to us. We went to the Ahmadiyya community for a September 11 memorialization. I hope we’re able to be there for each other always.”

While a few of the women are set to deliver the feminine hygiene kits to Cameroon in December. But they’ve recently run into a snag.

“We are raising money to support the cost of baggage fees,” Lanier said. “We will take approximately 30 duffel bags of the kits and each of those, at 50 pounds, the airline charges about $200. We’re looking at probably about $5000 to do that.”

Last year Delta waved the baggage fee, but Air France won’t do it.

Everyone involved in the project is a volunteer and they pay for all the sewing material and their plane tickets out of pocket.

To donate to their You Caring fundraising page, click here.

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Radio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

Teenager toxic masculinity...
Rachel Belle

This teenage boy wants to help your teen be vulnerable and fight toxic masculinity

15-year-old Zach Gottlieb started an Instagram and TikTok page for teens to submit questions on topics like anxiety, breakups, and more.
14 days ago
Lab grown salmon...
Rachel Belle

Seattle CEO prepares to bring lab-grown salmon to sushi bars, grocery stores

The next generation of sustainable, environmentally sound proteins will come from actual meat and fish. Wildtype is growing cuts of Coho salmon using salmon cells.
1 month ago
Rachel Belle

No one is talking about menopause, not even your doctor

Let's Talk Menopause founder Donna Klassen says most women don't know the symptoms and most medical schools don't include menopause in the curriculum. 
2 months ago
Nadiya Hussain...
Rachel Belle

New ‘Your Last Meal’: British Bake Off winner, Spice Waala brings Indian street food to Seattle

As a child, Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, felt frustrated that her dad served watered down, westernized Indian food at his restaurants.
2 months ago
Toxic positivity...
Rachel Belle

Seattle psychotherapist on how to cope with ‘season of toxic positivity’

Telling your loved ones to look on the bright side when they're feeling down is toxic positivity, and no one likes to hear it. Not even you.
2 months ago
birthday cake...
Rachel Belle

‘Your Last Meal’ podcast explores history of why we eat cake and light candles for birthdays

We all eat birthday cake, but have you ever wondered why? Award-winning chef Christina Tosi dives in on the latest episode of "Your Last Meal."
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Seattle group sewing feminine hygiene kits for African girls