In many cultures around the world, including some countries in Africa, girls are often not valued very highly. It is just the way it is, and has been for centuries.
How is Bookfriends making a difference?
There ARE solutions! Bookfriends encourages the girls to remain in their classrooms consistently simply by having monthly hygiene supplies. By staying in school, they are able to continue receiving an education. Education can change their lives dramatically.
The educated female students, in turn, are more valued by their families and communities. As the young women display their capabilities, they are appreciated more than ever by their peers. Additionally, the great increase in their self-esteem as educated young ladies gives the girls aspiration and visions for a healthy and productive future.
If a girl can remain in school all month, she won’t fall behind in her classes. If she stays home for a week per month, she may not be allowed by her family to return. She will have less risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking if she can remain in school.
It is the power of education changing lives in very positive directions!
Bookfriends is now providing menstrual hygiene kits for the African female students.
Each menstrual hygiene kit consists of:
- Two – three pads — reusable, washable
- One pair of new underwear *
- One quart size durable new plastic (freezer) zipper bag **
- An informational, encouraging brochure
- A reusable cloth pouch
A typical container of books that we ship serves 10 schools, in which there are approximately 4,000 female students. This requires at least 4,000 kits for each shipment.
Bookfriends is blessed by the help of volunteers from across the United States who cut, sew and assemble the kits.
We need more help in order to provide one kit per student.
We invite you to help. You can cut and/or sew with your sewing group, with a group of friends, or individually in your home. All ages and skill levels are welcome.
If you are interested in helping, please contact Bookfriends. We will provide you with a beginner’s kit and complete instructions.
Donations are Needed
Donations of new underwear and new quart size zipper plastic bags are also needed. Please read below for details.
* Underwear – girls’ sizes 12, 14, and 16 and women’s sizes 6 and 7. Underwear should be cotton or cotton blend, sturdy and brief style. No thongs or bikinis.
** One quart size durable zipper(freezer) plastic bags.
Monetary donations are needed for this project as well, to purchase fabric and other components for the kits.
Contact Bookfriends for a mailing address and donation receipt – for donations of pads, kits, quart size freezer bags and/or underwear.
You can read about several organizations that have stepped up to produce the hygiene kits below.
Wauconda Womens Club
The Wauconda (Illinois) Women’s Club has been a partner in the Girls’ Project since 2018, creating and providing several hundred complete hygiene kits each year. In 2022 this local club received an award from the Illinois State Women’s Club Federation for their contribution to give compassionate assistance to African girls through their provision of these kits.
Paulie Kutschat, founder of Bookfriends, and Judie Zietlow, leader of the Girls’ Project for the Wauconda Women’s Club are shown receiving the award.
COMMUNITY PROJECT – The Crystal Lake Area Branch Of American Association of University Women
The Crystal Lake (Illinois) Area Branch Of American Association of University Women members and friends have been consistently making the re-usable menstrual pads for African girls for several years. Pictured with Paulie Kutschat, a founder of Bookfriends, (front row, from left) are Jan Pizzo and Chris Kraft; and (back row, from left) Barbara Pagano, Kathy Stone, Laurie Pohl, Sandi Hall, Paula Ekstrom and Carol Heisler.
Two of the many boxes of pads produced by the Crystal Lake branch of AAUW of Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Quest Academy, Palatine, Illinois
Teen girls from Quest Academy, Palatine, Illinois volunteer to assemble the contents of the hygiene kits.
Why we do what we do
The picture on the right says it all! Look at the joy on the girls’ faces at the African school, when they receive their hygiene kits.