After some eye-opening overseas travel, Mary Connelly-Gale decided it was time to give back to those less fortunate than herself.
When Mrs Connelly-Gale returned to Australia after a trip to India, she began a Days For Girls team in Camberwell, Victoria.
Days For Girls is a global not-for-profit turning periods into pathways, providing women across the world with sanitary packs and education to shatter the stigma associated with menstruation.
When Mrs Connelly-Gale and her husband made the move to the Marshall Islands — between Hawaii and the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean — she noticed even more hardships faced by women in regards to their periods.
‘‘It’s really sad when you see people that can’t afford these things and I just really wanted to help,’’ Mrs Connelly-Gale said.
She moved to Tatura in September last year and has been creating a Days For Girls team in the Goulburn Valley.
With the help of local women and deputy team leader Cheryl Howson, Mrs Connelly-Gale was able to host her first information session in February, sharing her vision to create sustainable packs for Marshall Islands women from her home in Tatura.
The group of about 20 women gathered on Saturday, April 28, to make the feminine hygiene kits, including two shields, eight liners, two pairs of underwear, a face cloth, a travel-sized cake of soap and a draw-string bag made from Cotton or poly-cotton.
‘‘I am always so impressed by how enthusiastic people are to help give days back to girls,’’ Mrs Connelly-Gale said.
‘‘As women we understand how important it is to have access to feminine hygiene products and we can just imagine what it’s like if we don’t have these products.
‘‘The kits we make will last girls up to three or four years.
‘‘If we translate that into days, on average a girl has a period for about four days per month, over three years that adds up to 144 days or around four-and-a-half months that they would miss school or work.
‘‘Having access to the kits they can now attend school and are less likely to drop out of school,’’ she said.
A generous donation from Soroptimist Shepparton helped begin the process of supplying 45 kits.
The Goulburn Valley team is looking for more members to come along and help build the kits, or provide sponsorship.
‘‘Our team’s first goal is to send 1000 kits to the Marshall Islands,’’ Mrs Connelly-Gale said.
■If you would like to volunteer, become a kit sponsor or would like a speaker for your service group please email [email protected]forgirls.org or phone Mary Connelly-Gale on 0484 332 397.
- Ashlea Witoslawski