We’re pleased to share a guest post by alumni Global Volunteer Robi Kronberg. Robi has served in Peru and Tanzania, and now participates as a member of the Reaching Children’s Potential program Advisory Committee. Her professional experience in Higher Education has helped build out the program offerings and dedication to delivering effective services to our community partners. In her blog post, Robi discusses a new partner that she has brought to the table, Days for Girls, and how that partnership has benefited the women enrolled in the RCP program.
A Fulfilling Partnership between RCP and Days for Girls
I completed my first Global Volunteers program in 2006 when I served at an orphanage in Lima, Peru. It was a fulfilling experience, and I knew that someday, I would serve again with Global Volunteers. My opportunity came in 2017 when I received an invitation to serve on the inaugural team to Ipalamwa, Tanzania. The time was right in my life, and I joined Team #1 in July, 2017. It was a life-changing experience, and soon after returning home, I agreed to serve as a member of the RCP Advisory Board. Within several months, I, along with three of my teammates, was making plans to return in July, 2018.
Upon my return home in July, 2018 from my second visit to Ipalamwa, I pondered the request of some of the women in the RCP project for information on menstrual hygiene. Many women also described the lack of sanitary supplies. Thus the search for viable sanitary products began. I examined commercial options and quickly realized that such products would not effectively meet the needs of the women. After sharing my quest with many people, I was given the name of the organization “Days for Girls” as a possible option. After researching how the organization distributes kits and learning that all kits must be requested through local chapters, I began my search for a local chapter in my hometown of Denver, Colorado.
Through numerous emails with chapter coordinators in other cities, I located an “unofficial chapter” in Centennial, Colorado [which is near Robi’s hometown]. I was able to obtain information as to where and when the volunteers of this chapter met. Armed with this essential information, I dropped in during one of their monthly sewing events. I was warmly greeted by the woman who coordinates this chapter and by the end of my explanation of the RCP project, Barbara made a gracious commitment to provide 250 – 300 kits to our project.
In return for her commitment, I donated many packages of underwear (included in each kit) and volunteered to help assemble the kits that would be donated to our project.
Obtaining the kits was only the first step of this endeavor – the kits needed to be sent to Ipalamwa. In working with volunteer coordinators in the Global Volunteers office, I was able to collaborate with volunteers from Colorado who were willing to transport an extra suitcase of kits. Over time the number of boxes of kits, stacked in my garage, made their way to Ipalamwa.
Once I committed to returning to Ipalamwa for my third summer, I began to recruit my five fellow Colorado volunteers to each transport the remainder of the kits. Linda, one of my teammates was so moved by the effort to provide RCP women with menstrual kits, that she immediately joined the local chapter and is now one of the women who meet monthly to sew and assemble the kits.
When the women saw pictures in the workshop presentation of Linda and I working to sew and assemble kits with the local Days for Girls chapter, one woman at the workshop expressed her delight “that women in the United States are making these kits for other women”.
The effort to locate and transport sustainable sanitary supplies to the women in the RCP project came full circle this July, when we were able to get a total of 240 menstrual kits to Ipalamwa and offer a workshop on menstrual hygiene and the use of the kits to 227 women. As each woman received their own kit and learned how to use the items, they expressed profound appreciation.
Obtaining and transporting menstrual kits to women in the RCP project has been a fulfilling endeavor. The provision of hygiene supplies, so often taken for granted by those who have access to a variety of options, is yet another example of how a simple desire to support a request from those involved in the RCP project resulted in forming a partnership with an organization willing to support this need.
Submitted, with love, by Robi Kronberg