Port Olry Days for Girls
July 2017, Port Olry, Vanuatu
Duration: 2 hours
Two Llamas partnered with the Gold Coast branch of Days for Girls International and Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health, to provide 200 washable feminine hygiene kits to women and girls in the community of Port Olry on the island of Espiritu Santo.
Women and girls in the village of Port Olry have extremely limited access to funds to purchase feminine hygiene products. As such, they must use whatever products are accessible, or remain at home when they are experiencing their monthly cycle.
It was anticipated that the provision of training and free washable kits containing pads would:
1/ help reduce the incidence of infection from using ‘alternative’ materials to make pads
2/ help remove social stigma or shame associated with menstruation
3/ enable women and girls to more fully participate in society throughout the month
According to local sources (the Health Clinic and High School), it’s estimated that the average household income in Port Olry is approximately VT60,000/ year. Most households comprise 8 people; roughly half (4) of whom would be female and half (2) of these of child bearing age. Kotex is the most popular type of pad purchased, where stores exist and where they carry supplies. A packet of 10 Kotex costs Vt100 at LCM in Luganville. The monthly cost for Kotex is estimated at VT150/ person or VT 1,800/ year. That equates to VT3,600/ household or 6% of the household’s annual income.
It is reasonable to assume that providing funds to purchase Kotex is likely to be a lower priority than providing funds for food, water, education and the medical need of the whole family. Hence, women and girls are known to find themselves in a position where they must use other materials such as paper, cloth, coconut fibre, or remain home from work/ school when menstruating. Further, unnecessary infections are commonplace, leading to health and fertility complications.
Two Llamas has been working with staff at the Port Olry Health Clinic to facilitate training and supplies that will benefit the community’s well-being. Women’s Business and post-natal care are two areas where assistance was sought. Days for Girl is committed to supporting a girl throughout her entire lifecycle, from providing her with a DfG Kit, to teaching her health education, to offering training for her when she grows older, so that she can produce DfG Kits and support hygiene needs in her community.
Two Llamas acquired 200 Days for Girls kits from the Queensland branch of the international organisation. These were donated free of charge.
Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health facilitated their importation to Vanuatu by waiving VAT and Customs fees. Two Llamas paid for broker fees and customs listing fees.
SUP Wilderness Adventures and their clients used their baggage allowance to transport the kits from Brisbane to Espiritu Santo.
Air Vanuatu provided 10kg of free luggage allowance. Private donors paid for excess weight.
On 28 June 2017, Two Llamas attended the Health Clinic and high school at Port Olry. A Women’s Business meeting was called after school and all high school girls were required to attend. Training was provided with the assistance of nurse Radiant Stanley and English teacher Magalie Namol.
Approximately 120 kits were distributed. On 13 July 2017, the nurses at Port Olry Health Clinic held a workshop for new mothers; teaching breast feeding, infant health and distributing a further 60 Days for Girls kits. 20 kits remain at the clinic for future distribution. PROJECT BUDGET Private donations totalling Au$150 were received by Two Llamas. These funds were used to pay for importation and transport costs.
180 of the 200 kits were distributed in July 2017. 180 females received Women’s’ Business training. Clinic staff will be able to track any reduction in infections that may have been caused by improper/ inappropriate hygiene during menstruation. Teachers will be able to track improved attendance at school. Days for Girls kits last 3 years when cared for as instructed, so financial savings amount to VT10,800 per household over the lifespan of each kit.
DESIRED BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE
Health Clinic staff and high school teachers have self-nominated to serve as ‘Go To’ people in the community for advice and guidance. It is hoped women and girls will feel less stigma when discussing Women’s Business. It is hoped that the distribution of kits will help reduce absenteeism from school and facilitate greater community participation by women.
Two Llamas would like to thank Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health for their continued support, guidance and assistance. We would also like to acknowledge and thank the Ministry of Education and the Principal of Port Olry High School, who allowed the training to take place, provided the dining hall for the event and made staff and pupils available to participate. Our special thanks to the nursing team at the Port Olry Health Clinic. Without their tireless effort and commitment to improving the well-being of community members, Two Llamas project work would not be possible.
Sincere thanks also to SUP Wilderness Adventures customers who sacrificed personal baggage allowance to assist with transporting the kits; to Air Vanuatu for making additional weight allowance available; and to private donors for providing the funds needed to cover ancillary costs.
Finally, we would like to thank the many nameless volunteers who make the Days for Girls kits. They are the first link in a chain that connects women globally and without their donations of time and energy, none of us would have been in a position to help at all.