His Daughters’ Dignity:
Reusable Pad Outreach and the Girls of South Sudan
Post by Erica Hale, V.P. of The Lulu Tree
I have my keys in one hand and am reaching for the door when my daughter catches me.
“Are you going to the store?” she asks. Before I can answer, she quietly adds, “I need…things.”
I knew exactly what she was talking about, and if you’re a woman or have daughters you probably do, too. And no, I wasn’t going to the store just then; but yes, of course I did because sometimes it’s just hard. Sometimes it’s just hard being a teenage girl, and don’t we all remember that? Don’t we all have our stories that make our cheeks turn pink, stories that we keep to ourselves?
Because even in America, even with people protesting the “pink tax” and even with those commercials that cheerfully suggest you “have a happy period” while you’re sitting there with your brothers just trying to watch some TV. Even here it’s hard.
It’s hard to be a girl.
And if it’s still hard to be a girl here in the States, if we still fight the shame of “the curse” and flush red when we walk through certain grocery aisles, what’s it like for our sisters? For the ones in Africa, in countries where the shame is so much greater, and the resources are so much scarcer?
There, it’s not so easy. No disposable sanitary pads. No place to dispose of them, even if you could afford and obtain them.
Mama Esther, Lulu’s East African director, reports that girls miss school because of their periods, which causes them to fall behind. They stuff leaves in their underwear, which sometimes leads to injury. Many, Esther tells us as her voice breaks, don’t have underwear at all.
I take for granted the fact that I can preserve my daughters’ dignity by running to the store. I take for granted so many things.
On the border of Uganda and South Sudan, a million displaced people live in camps as they wait in hope of one day returning home. People struggle for basic needs like food, water, and sanitation. If it’s hard sometimes to be a girl in North America, and it’s harder to be a girl in the villages of Uganda, it’s even more of a struggle in the South Sudanese refugee camps.
But there is hope—so much hope—when people work together as the hands and feet of God!
In April, Pastor Santos and his team were joined by Mama Esther and the vision planting team to hold the first reusable pad outreach in the refugee camps. They brought with them 1,000 reusable sanitary pads, sewn by Lulu mamas in Uganda.
At the outreach, they distributed the pads, but each woman took home much more than a few pieces of stitched fabric.
They took home the Good News that was preached, many of them hearing for the first time just who they are: precious daughters of the King of Kings, who loves them each with fierce and Fatherly love and knows them each by name.
They went home nourished by fresh water and a good meal, prepared for them.
And they went home having been celebrated on a day dedicated to them, the women and girls of South Sudan. They went with prayer and dancing, hearts full, with one less thing to weigh them down in the heat and uncertainty of the refugee camps.
A day where they felt seen and understood; where they felt cared for by a God who would gladly send messengers of hope and help across the country or around the world for one simple, holy purpose:
To preserve His daughters’ dignity.