The Nyadire Connection maintains many ongoing programs, focused on Health, Orphans, and Education and Relationships:
Girl Empowerment Pad
Program leader: Bonnie Lawson
To make a tax-deductible donation to this program, please click HERE and specify "GEP" if writing a check.
In Africa, girls fall behind their male peers academically due to a lack of feminine hygiene items that forces girls to miss school, often for days. In addition to the girls, also affected are African women and those working in and around TNC’s orphanage, schools and clinics in Nyadire. To address this issue, in 2011 TNC created the Girl Empowerment Pad (GEP) Program.
(1) Keep girls in school during their menstrual cycle to avoid learning loss;
(2) Give them tools to make their own sanitary supplies; and
(3) Provide culturally- and age-appropriate health education
Achievements: The program has evolved organically, from the “grass roots” in Pittsburgh and Nyadire, via women helping women. At first the program provided schools with pre-sewn, reusable cotton pads. Then we began furnishing kits with all items needed for girls to sew their own pads. Then GEP began to supply U.S. kit items for local assembly in Zimbabwe. In addition, volunteers trained teachers and paired health literature and education with sewing activities. And we have sent refurbished manual and electric sewing machines to seven primary schools.
Impact: To date more than 10,000 pads or kits have been distributed; 80 sewing machines refurbished and sent to schools; 20 teachers trained and 500 copies of a book on puberty have been distributed. More than 3,000 girls have participated in this life-changing, confidence-building program. Sewing classes now offer culturally and developmentally appropriate hygiene education, and teach girls to sew not only pads but also clothing as well as facemasks for COVID-19 prevention.
Two New Initiatives: To keep the program sustainable, Zimbabwean partners cannot be dependent on U.S. supplies, and new leadership must be cultivated as teachers move on. For these reasons we are launching two new initiatives:
Recognition: Women and Girls Foundation of SW PA (2013); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, WESA-FM, Almanac.
What You Can Do
On January 27, 2019, Ava Ekstam of Seneca Valley High School hosted a sewing party at Dulith UMC. This was the first sewing party held in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. Many thanks to all who participated. For more information contact Bonnie Lawson.