Threds of Red
Providing protection, Promoting dignity, and Preserving life-long learning...Period

A Humanitarian Trip that Inspired a Nurse

In January of 2011 I traveled to Kawempe, Uganda on a humanitarian medical mission. While in Africa, I met Rose, a pastor's wife who manages two schools and oversees a program that provides feminine hygiene supplies and promotes education for girls residing in the area slums. Our conversation was intriging, because in the United States, this pivital point in a young girl's life is just another aspect of a great women's issue we take for granted without a second thought. But in developing countries, it is taboo to talk about menstruation. When the subject is brought up and women are asked "so what do you do?" the answer quite often is, ...stay home and out of public. Without access to hygiene supplies, there is little choice. For children, it is much worse. She told me the story of one young student who suddenly stopped attending classes. After a week of absence, Rose called upon the child, visiting her in her squalid locale. There she found the girl, dressed only in a ragged pair of men's trousers held up around her torso by a piece of frayed rope. She had began her menses, alone, scared and soiled in the dried blood we refer to as "womanhood."

​​​I flew home after the mission in tears. My heart was broken for this child. And as I recalled the explicit details of my conversation with the pastor's wife, reality struck me like a bolt of lightening. This was one girl, but there were more girls just like her. In many places...all around the world. I thought about my beautiful daughter. How we shopped for "big girl panties" when her day came. How we lovingly celebrated her passage to womanhood. How she never missed a day of school because she had her period. And I cried.

I returned to Uganda the following year. In collaboration with fellow mission workers, we created a small endeavor providing 100 kits with reusable sanitary supplies and underpants to the girls at Rose's school. We included instruction on puberty, feminine hygiene care, health and wellness. We implimented additional teaching and covered topics such as pregnancy prevention, rape, STDs and HIV/AIDS. The girls LOVED it! After returning home from Uganda, I felt a renewed sense of hope that we could make a difference. As women, we are linked together by this Thred of Red, which we all must face for the very first time... until it visits us for it's last. Together, let us provide the opportunity for all young women to embrace their right of passage with confidence and dignity..