Yokota High School Students Make Pads for Girls in Africa
At 2:30 pm, Thursday October 29th, after the last school bell rang, the Yokota High School Information Center was filled with an unusual crowd. Students filled the room, not there to catch up on homework or check out a book, but to make pads. Washable, re-useable maxi pads to be exact. Tables were covered in various cloths and materials: Velcro, towels, and flannel. Traceable patterns were handed out. Students picked up sharpies and scissors and began working. They cut out patterns, glued Velcro straps, and assembled patches of materials to make the pads. Ms. Kitty Martinez, the school AVID counselor, Health teacher, and girls’ basketball coach, teamed up with Emma Stober, director of the Pad Project and cofounder of “toolittlechildren”, a nonprofit organization that works to help children in Africa, to set up the event.
Emma Stober herself showed up as a key speaker. She taught students how to make the maxipads and how the pads would help girls in Africa. Mrs. Stober explained, “Around 80% of 5th to 8th grade girls in Kenya drop out of school” because they cannot balance the cost of an education and the cost for feminine hygiene products such as pads, which are rare in third world countries such as Kenya. In many third world countries in Africa, a girl’s period is seen as a taboo subject, and without education about their periods and without products such as pads and tampons many girls have to stay home from school every month. These missing weeks of school add up, and without an education, many girls turn to early marriage or prostitution to make a living.
The Pad Project is currently sending volunteers, who will deliver the pads that the Yokota High School students, and many others, have helped make, to Kenya. In the country the volunteers not only hand out these pads, but they also hold “sex education sessions” and “pad talks” in which they teach girls how not to get pregnant, how to use the pads, and how to respect themselves and their bodies. The last set of volunteers left on October 29th and the next set will leave on March 10th. Most of these volunteers consist of nursing students from Michigan colleges.
Without the help from local high school students, such as the Yokota High School students that volunteered, many African girls would be at risk for poor futures. The students were glad to help. One student, Caitlyn Averill, remarked, “I want to work with the Red Cross or Disaster Relief when I grow up. I enjoy helping others. That’s why this opportunity is very important to me. It gives me a good purpose in life.” For more information about the Pad Project or “toolittlechildren” go to: http://toolittlechildren.org/