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Denis Robson writes about the twinning between Innerleithen, Traquair and Walkerburn Church of Scotland with Thondwe in Malawi.

 

Daysforgirls’ is a well-established organisation which highlights the importance of access to feminine hygiene products, without which young women have to stay at home during the days of their period. This can lead to them missing over 60 days of schooling each year, which inevitably leads to a disruption in their education and may mean that they drop out of school.

They have developed washable sanitary products for girls to use. They also provide training in health education and support in setting up small businesses so that the women who need these products can make them for themselves and sell them to others.

The Rev. Picklen Chafulamira travelled from Thondwe to Innerleithen last October and made quite an impact on the community in Tweeddale. He was seen in St Ronan’s School and many of the cafe’s and businesses getting to know people. He inspired many to think of ways of developing a link with those in Thondwe. Supporting Daysforgirls seemed like a good way of doing so.

On Saturday 26th August, a sewing workshop, organised by the Thondwe Twinning Partnership and the Peebles Team of ‘Daysforgirls’, took place in Innerleithen.  The Thondwe Twinning Partnership is a committee set up by the local church to develop and strengthen the relationship between the Innerleithen community and a rural community in Thondwe, in the District of Zomba, Malawi.

The aim of the workshop was to make 50 packs of essential feminine hygiene kits to give to 50 girls between the ages of 10 and 16 years in Thondwe, Malawi. These packs will last for 3 years and enable them to go about their usual tasks without worrying about their period.

 

With this goal in mind over 20 women gathered together: some with their sewing machines, but all with their individual skills and enthusiasm to learn, to achieve the task. They set about measuring, cutting, sewing, ironing, checking, sorting and ensuring that the finished product was up to the high standards required of ‘Daysforgirls’.   People travelled from as far as Edinburgh and Skirling to join together and many new friendships were made. By the end of the day everything was ready to create 50 kits.

Lois Hindley of the Thondwe Twinning Partnership said; “The project does not end here. I plan to go to Thondwe in October together with Shirley Bean and other members of the Twinning committee to distribute these kits to the 50 girls, and provide some health education. We will also be teaching people how to make these feminine hygiene products for themselves, and give them support in setting up a small enterprise to make and sell these items within their community.

If you would like any further information about ‘Daysforgirls’ visit www.daysforgirls.org.uk  or contact Helen Hunter of the ‘Daysforgirls’ Peebles team at peeblesscotland@daysforgirls.org.uk

If you would like to hear more of the partnership with Thondwe and the projects underway there please contact Lois Hindley on lois.hindley@btinternet.com , or if you would like to consider a twinning relationship for your congregation contact wmoutreach@churchofscotland.org.uk