Saturday, January 28, 2017

Unmentionables... mentioned

The Curse

How do you know when you are being offensive?  I would be comfortable with saying most anything to someone in person.  You can’t really offend me by what you say.  I mean, I talk about sex and vaginas all day long with strangers.  It’s my job.  Now get me in front of a crowd and that’s a different story.  Olen… he’s a whole other story.  He can say most anything to anyone and NEVER BE EMBARRASSED!!  Add this to the fact we have been on our own in rural Africa for the last 6+ years, and… well, we might not be the most conventional at social conversation.  Our filters are pretty unrefined.

So this last summer we had the honor of being invited to speak at New Market Camp Meeting.  We had the privilege of gaining a whole new group of friends there.  There is a group of ladies in Virginia with a passion for others.  Those ladies became so close to my heart.  They wanted a sewing project for the women of Bere, Tchad, something that could help young women feel more connected with our church.  And they wanted to find a way to help young women stay in school.  The suggestion was made to create homemade menstrual kits.  Boom!  These ladies were on it!  They were crazy on it!  They were stronger than the Red Army!  They were off and surfing on the crimson wave!

All girls are plagued with an annoying period.  Tchadian, American, Martian, doesn’t matter.  (Well, I don’t actually know if Martian girls have periods or not.)  If it were up to me, I would just put them all on Depo-Provera injections that would make a lot of them not ever even have the painters in.  But, some women don’t feel womanly if they don’t menstruate (for reasons that bewilder me), so my plan doesn’t work.

We do not have the nicest facilities at our schools here in Chad.  Pit toilets.  No running water.  Not the easiest thing to clean up with when Aunt Flo decides to drop by for her monthly visit.  Girls typically have a string around their waist and tie a strip of cloth from front to back to collect the blood.  Over that, they rarely have underwear.  Often just a yard of fabric they tie around their waist as a rudimentary skirt, occasionally with a lose pair of baggy shorts underneath.  Girls are often embarrassed to step out of class if they need to change or adjust themselves.  Or the dilemma of what to do with the soiled cloth.  Or how to wash up.  Or the embarrassment of bleeding through the cloth and onto their skirt.  So oftentimes the girls will just stay at home.  They miss education.  The cycle of being inferior to men continues.  Everyone loses.

Well this project changes everything.  New Market women to the rescue!  My new New Market friends sewed cool, fancy pads!  They made care packages of nice bags with Bible verses printed on them, a ziplock bag (to keep things dry and clean), a washcloth, several pair of underwear, a bar of soap and several of the most awesome sanitary napkins the world has ever seen, sewn from bright and durable cloth!  Our girls can now go to school or the market or work or wherever they want, any time of the month they want, and discretely change pads as they need, go home and wash them, hang out the beautifully designed pads to dry and voila!  Good to go for next month!

We have the most remarkable unmentionables in the country! (If that’s not an oxymoron.)

Today was the day I got to distribute the second half of these packets.  A gaggle of young ladies from church and community came.  We passed out the kits.  We explained them.  The ladies were so incredibly grateful.  And we had time to talk about the birds and the bees.  We laughed.  We giggled.  We even had some question time about that time of the month.

What a fun evening to connect with our young girls!  How I wish our New Market friends could have been here.

There was just one tiny problem.  I ran out of kits!  They love them so much and insisted I pass along a big Thank You!!!

At camp meeting we weren’t exactly allowed to call the project anything that might offend a man or child. So we called it the “Women’s Project”. That’s the polite way to do things.  Apparently “Vaginal Bleeding Collection System Project” was already taken.


  1. Thank you so much for this post! I helped for three days to make the pads! I'm thrilled to know three were well received, I wish we could have made more. Should we try to make more and send them to you? (I ask that, but I don't know if we can do anything now, only after school is out). So glad I could help!

  2. Ever heard of "VBS"? ;-)

  3. So glad i was able to help out a few days with the "women's Project". I am with Lillian Maybe we can do more when school is out.

  4. an incredible job of giving confidence to the girls