November 6, 2021

Adventist Academy Students Make a Difference at a School 8,000 Miles Away

In Canada, Social Justice class raises funds to provide sanitary pads to Kenyan girls.

By: Ali Aqeel, Jacqui McCarty, and Laura Tester, for Canadian Adventist Messenger 

Girls in Kenya are often forced to miss school on the days of their menstrual cycle. If they don’t have access to the necessary feminine hygiene products or suitable toilet facilities at school, this natural part of life becomes a challenge. Canadian charity A Better World (ABW) created the Girls Need You project focused on providing reusable feminine hygiene kits. It highlights the barriers that “period poverty” presents to many girls around the world.

In March 2021, the Girls Need You project sparked the attention of the Social Justice 12 class at Fraser Valley Adventist Academy in Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada. Grade 11 and 12 students, led by their teacher, Kalmani Huether-Amoah, invested wholeheartedly in supporting their peers at the Naikarra Primary School, more than 13,000 kilometers (about 8,100 miles) away. They set a goal to raise CA$1,000 (about US$810) to supply girls at Naikarra with feminine hygiene kits by June.

The class was initially drawn to the project because of its ties to education, Huether-Amoah said. “My students’ motivation continues to inspire me as they plan meal fundraisers and events to bring awareness to this cause.” In addition to bringing necessary supplies to girls to continue their education, Huether-Amoah explained, many women in the communities benefit too. That’s because Girls Need You supplies jobs to local sewing groups.

Grade 11 student Zoe Park, part of the Social Justice class, said the project “immediately grabbed my attention because as a girl, I have experienced the painful sides of the menstrual cycle.” She added that the fundraising and the project could help normalize the conversation around menstrual cycles and products among the general population.

Alex Gunning, another Grade 11 student, said that out of the many projects the class was considering, they liked that Girls Need You had a sustainable goal. With these kits, he explained, these girls will not be afraid or uncomfortable to attend school while having their periods. “What we are doing as a team will put a smile on people’s faces,” Gunning said.

Dylen Jovanovic Marin, student and social media advertiser, acknowledged just how important this project was. “The idea of providing something that seems so small compared to other things in society, to someone who needs it, is very special to me,” he said. Despite all the fundraising challenges during COVID-19, the class exceeded its fundraising goal by nearly 20 percent.

Less than a week after the class finished their fundraising, 500 feminine hygiene kits were delivered to the Naikarra Primary School upper-grade girls. Jacinta, a local community health nurse, gave the girls a short talk on the importance of feminine hygiene and how to care for and maintain the kits.

The effort and enthusiasm of students is inspiring, staff members of ABW said, seeing young people who continue to strive to make the world a better place, where the basic needs of all are met.

The original version of this story was posted in the October issue of Canadian Adventist Messenger.