Peace Corps volunteers stand in a unique gap between NGOs, foreign aid, and volunteerism not bridged by many other agencies. Volunteers live amongst local communities, (attempt to) speak the local language, and dedicate a full 27 months of service to their respective host countries. We don’t give money, but instead rely on providing technical training, knowledge, and cross-cultural exchange to make an impact in developing countries. Sometimes this “low-tech” approach can feel frustrating and like change is moving along at a glacial pace. However, even while we work amongst the grassroots, we volunteers have the unique perspective of also having worldwide connectivity (at least when we have electricity) and the ability to gather resources otherwise out of reach to our communities. Many volunteers reach out to hometowns, NGOs, charitable organizations, and other resources to try and bring much needed development to their country of service. It can sometimes seem like wading around in murky water, looking for the right opportunity, but every now and again you find just the right thing at the right time to make a difference.
And, if you’re lucky and happen to have some really outstanding blog readers, sometimes those opportunities find you.
Last month I was contact by Kaitlyn Saruwatari, the Marketing Coordinator of Evofem, makers of Softcup. For those of you unfamiliar with Softcup, it’s a reusable menstrual product with a lot of neat benefits that make it a superior choice to traditional throw-away pads and tampons, especially in the developing world where such things are difficult to come by. Kaitlyn is a future PCV and had been following this blog when she saw this post asking for your support for our upcoming GLOW camp. Not only did everyone step up to the plate and help us meet our fundraising goals (thank you!), but Kaitlyn contacted me to make an incredible offer.
Evofem is donating a Softcup to each and every one of our GLOW camp girls (and the female volunteers!) as part of our training on teaching girls about menstruation, their bodies, and sanitary practices. Through Project Dignity, Evofem has committed to donating 50,000 Softcups to women and girls around the world in an effort to improve their access to sanitary menstrual products, avoiding losing time at school or jobs during their periods, and help break the taboos about women’s bodies in developing countries. According to their website, for every box of cups they sell, they also donate one cup to this program. Through Kaitlyn’s incredible offer to support our upcoming GLOW camp, we are acting as the pilot program for Peace Corps Zambia to share this potentially life-changing product with Zambians women and girls. If we find success with training our girls to use Softcup (you can see a training video here) and find they are willing to use it (Zambian culture includes many taboos against touching the vagina outside of a sex), we will expand their program to GLOW camps across Peace Corps Zambia.
But, that’s not all! Softcup would like to offer this opportunity to GLOW clubs throughout the Peace Corps world and is looking for volunteers in other countries to coordinate with! So, if you are a PCV with a GLOW club, or work with women and girls as part of your service, contact Kaitlin Ball, the Softcup Brand Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact future PCV Kaitlyn Saruwatari, Softcup Marketing Coordinator, at email@example.com (and wish her luck! She’s heading to Paraguay in 2015). And, as always, you can always contact me here if you have questions about how we are using Softcup as part of our GLOW clubs here in Zambia.
So, a huge thank you to Evofem and both Kaitlin and Kaitlyn for their support of Peace Corps, our GLOW camps, and women and girls across the world. As a current user of Diva Cup (a similar product to Softcup), I plan to do a comparison between the two products and bring the results to you in a future post.
Stay well, thanks for reading, and fish on.