Category Archives: Uncategorized

Half of the world does this, but it’s still hard to talk about

 

The ability deal with menstruation sanitarily, silently, and safely is, without a doubt, a privilege afforded to very few women. Although many people living in the United States might consider menstruation as an uncomfortable topic for discussion, open dialogue about periods and menstrual health is a vital part of maintaining the safety and dignity of all women. The impact of open dialogue about menstruation is threefold for women who don’t have easy access to sanitary napkins or tampons—women without financial means, women who live in towns without affordable menstrual supplies, women who are taught to be ashamed of their own menstrual cycles.

In 2012, Good Neighbors launched the Good Sisters Club in Malawi, which aims to foster conversation about periods among girls in rural Malawi. But our advocacy isn’t simply lip service: our Clean Body initiative has helped hundreds of young girls and women to empower themselves and their bodies by using hygienic and reusable cotton maxi pads when Aunt Flo comes to visit.

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Instructors provide girls with stencils to trace the outline of the sanitary pad on fabric.

The ability to comfortably menstruate has not always been afforded to these Malawian women and many others. But as the Good Sisters Club has grown, the impact sex and menstrual education has had on these women has become all the more salient. Regardless of what society might suggest, having a period should not be a source of shame for any woman.

Good Neighbors has partnered with Menstrual Hygiene Day—which is celebrated annually on May 28th—in order to further address these inequalities and facilitate more meaningful period-­related discussions. But while Menstrual Health Day is a great place to
start these life-­changing conversations, menstrual health awareness needs to expand beyond May 28th.

Courtesy: MenstrualHygieneDay.org

Courtesy: MenstrualHygieneDay.org

The next time you run to the nearest Duane Reade or CVS to purchase some maxi pads, remember that not every woman has the same privilege of access. Every time you open a new box of tampons, consider the role you play in ensuring the confidence and menstrual
health of women who are taught to conceal their periods in unsafe ways that might lead to infections or viruses. Using the resources provided on the Menstrual Hygiene Day website and many others, you can facilitate crucial menstrual health-­related discussions within your own community.

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Girls in Chaseta, Malawi, sewing their own reusable sanitary pads

Good Neighbors is launching its recruitment efforts for the LA Big5K run/walk on Saturday, March 14, 2015, benefiting the Good Sisters clubs throughout Malawi. Our goal is to raise funds to grow the Good Sisters Club in Katsumwa from 50 girls to 120 girls, and provide enough fabrics and sewing materials so each girl enrolled can make their own reusable sanitary pads. In addition, we plan to build a private toilet and sanitary facility so girls can take care of their needs with dignity, and also provide school book bags for each girl so they can hide their sanitary pads when they go to school, to avoid any unwanted attention. By supporting Good Sisters, our goal is to increase awareness of gender inequality throughout their community, so girls can support and empower each other in a safe environment.

You can join Team Good Neighbors for the LA Big5K and support the Good Sisters project in Malawi!  Learn more here!

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Club Day at Van Nuys High School

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Written by Amanda Kaufman, Treasurer of VNHS Good Neighbors Club

Van Nuys High School holds an annual “Club Day,” a day for different clubs to fundraise by setting up booths in the Quad selling food, snacks, and drinks. For most students, what defines Club Day is the wide selection of good food available for students to purchase; however for the students helping out at each booth, Club Day is a responsibility that promises rewards beyond just the food but also publicity (and with publicity, new members), and more funds for the club.

The wonderful members of Club Project Cookstoves working hard! (From left to right: Sean Kim, Nicholas Lee, Sung Lee (awesome dad!), Bea Aguillan, Joe Lee

The wonderful members of Club Project Cookstoves working hard! (From left to right: Sean Kim, Nicholas Lee, Sung Lee (awesome dad!), Bea Aguillan, Joe Lee

Our club, Project Cookstoves, organized a booth selling Korean Barbeque. Members of the club brought pans and grills to cook the meat onsite. To bring attention to the booth and to attract more customers, members of the club walked among the crowd of students and teachers while holding up posters promoting Project Cookstoves. In addition, next to the food was a box for donations.

Poster made by student Xena Peterson

Poster made by student Xena Peterson

Overall, it was a successful event for Project Cookstoves. Our club raised over $200 from both selling the food and obtaining additional donations. The apron-clad students behind the tables experienced how hectic things could get, so they should definitely be commended for their hard work, diligence and efficiency! A special thank you goes to the parents of Jae Chung and Joe Lee, who provided a lot of the food. We look forward to more opportunities to raise both funds and awareness for Project Cookstoves in the future.

Thanks, Amanda, and everyone at the Project Cookstoves Club at Van Nuys High School! You guys are awesome and we appreciate all your hard work and dedication to spreading awareness about this project! Visit our website for more information about Project Cookstoves.

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Motherhood in Malawi

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Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby should be among some of the most happiest experiences in life. But in Malawi (and most African countries), many women lose their lives during pregnancy or childbirth, and many children don’t survive past the age of five. Good Neighbors is helping to change this situation by building a new health care center specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.

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Women and children checking in and waiting in line to see a doctor

Malawi has less than five medical personnel per 100,000 people, and poor clinical access and conditions lead to 1 in 16 women dying from maternal complications. In the village of Chiwoza specifically, the nearest health care center is over 20 miles away and there is no means of transportation available. In best case scenarios, women ride bicycles alone to the hospital while they’re having contractions; and in the worst (and most common), they give birth on dirt roads because they can’t get to a hospital in time.

Pregnant women walk over 20 miles from Chiwoza, Malawi, to the nearest medical facility to give birth

“I did not know when my baby was due because I had never been to a hospital. I suddenly felt contractions and needed to go to the hospital. I had no choice but to walk and then give birth on the street. When I got home with my newborn in my arms, the baby had already passed away. It was truly heartbreaking. ” ~Berias Ruciano

Weighing babies to ensure they’re at a healthy, normal weight

Weighing babies to ensure they’re at a healthy, normal weight

In 2011, Good Neighbors launched a project to improve medical services in the village to prevent what happened to Berias from happening to other women. We distributed nutritious meals and likuni phala (a maize-based porridge which is a staple in Malawi) to mothers and children under five years old who were underweight . We also held health seminars on malaria and AIDS prevention for mothers.

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Chiwoza Health Center

Good Neighbors opened the Chiwoza Health Center in September 2013.  Built with the support of community residents who helped purchase and stack bricks, build fences, and work on landscaping, the local community members were empowered to support the health of their women and children.

At the Chiwoza Health Center, Good Neighbors provides basic medical services with a special emphasis on maternal health. It offers support to mothers by providing sanitary delivery rooms, waiting rooms, recovery rooms, and education/teaching rooms for young children. Additionally, the health center has provided 96% of residents with basic medical services and is maintained and operated by local community members.

Photo Credit: Chanhak Park

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