JuJu distributes cups to Africa
Days for Girls have transformed the lives of so many women and girls around the world in less than 4 years, and have built an international network of volunteers who work together to create sustainable, dignified, menstrual kits. The kits allow girls to attend school all of the days of the month, which improves their education and makes them more likely to stay in school longer, less likely to have early pregnancies, earn more for their families, and have healthier children. A year of schooling for the mother reduces child mortality by about 10 per cent. Women make up over 2/3 of the world’s 796 million people who were never taught to read. Being able to stay in school can change that.
JuJu made a donation of 1000 cups to Days For Girls International earlier this year. So far these cups have been distributed in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda. We asked Celeste from Days for Girls some questions about the journey so far.
JuJu: What are some of the social and economic challenges faced by women in the countries where you are distributing cups?
Celeste: The women and girls we serve are frequently marginalized, struggling to survive day to day and/or to stay in school. They have to choose between basic needs as their resources are limited. They frequently feel that their voice does not count. Girls frequently feel they are exploited in exchange for feminine hygiene just to try to stay in school.
JuJu: How do women currently handle menstruation in these countries?
Celeste: They wait in their rooms or homes for the duration, or they use leaves, grass, trash, mattress stuffing, toilet paper, cement bags, dung, old rags, bark, corn cobs, corn husk or even stones.
JuJu: What will a menstrual cup enable them to do? How many will benefit?
Celeste: They can be productive and less distracted for fear of leaking. They don’t have to worry about finding something to change with and they can count on their cup for hours longer than any other solution.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions will benefit. We estimate that about 15% of the millions would use cups if they understood them. In our experience, the older women (30 – 45) are most open to it.
JuJu: Have you received any feedback from women using the cups?
Celeste: Yes, while there, we got many, many thanks on your behalf. Two have even emailed that they love their vaginal cups and one says she hopes we bring more for others next time. That’s big since many cannot readily access email. We’ll learn more when we return.
JuJu: Does receiving a JuJu make women happy?
Celeste: YES! So happy, grinning and almost dancing happy. These women face days of anxiety, days of isolation, men telling them they “belong at home” because they stink during their days (it’s hard not to when you have one rag or a piece of cardboard for the month) and then your comfortable, quality, safe, don’t have to change them often, no fuss cups come into their lives and they walk with their heads high and a new bounce in their step. It’s hard to describe how HUGE this is for them, but their smiles speak volumes when they receive one. And when they come back with a line of friends in tow… well, you know how important it is. And when they contribute $3 or $5 each (whichever they can afford), those funds go to pay the transportation for DfG Ambassadors of Women’s Health to keep teaching about reproductive health and about DfG kits and your cups available. It’s a beautiful win/win/win!
JuJu: Have there been any remarkable reactions to the idea?
Celeste: Women were intrigued but cautious. I asked for a volunteer to try it and get to keep it for free. One woman finally agreed to do so. She followed me to the bathroom. I repeated to her how to wash hands, insert, wash hands. She went into the bathroom by herself to try. The others waited staring at the door. From inside suddenly you could hear her say, “Oh! It is so comfortable! You can’t even feel it!!” The other women grinned ear-to-ear and nodded enthusiastically to each other. She came out smiling and said, “It is good. VERY good.”
JuJu: You mentioned some women volunteering there are using the cups, have they found the switch easy and comfortable?
Celeste: JuJu is my favorite. I have a tipped uterus so my doc said she didn’t think I could use one. Others were a tad uncomfortable but yours is a dream.
Volunteer women living in Uganda begged for cups saying they could not find the supplies they need and they were SO happy to have a cup. Having a dependable solution month after month is huge for them. Quality disposables are not easy to come by at any price.
JuJu: What would you like to see in terms of support for your organization and its efforts?
Celeste: We honor and respect JuJu’s partnership thus far and the important contribution of these cups. Any additional cups in the future would be very well received. We are working to make your contributions empower the women who get the cups and the women distributing and teaching how to use them as much as possible. We need help getting the world out about this need and JuJu’s role in helping and how the more of us that we can get working together on this, the faster we will reach them all. Lastly, we need help with finding corporate and nonprofit sponsorship’s!