Story of Days For Girls in Indonesia : “Hi Girls, you are Lovable and Precious!” Part 1

West Timor, Indonesia- November 2017. The Foundation for Mother and Child Health Indonesia (FMCH) or Yayasan Balita Sehat Indonesia in partnership with Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation (PHMF) successfully conducted the ‘Days For Girls’ Project in West Timor, Indonesia on November 12th, 2017. Days for girls is made up of a network of dedicated and passionate individuals working to ensure women and girls have the solutions they need and are 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.

In 2016, FMCH Indonesia and PHMF were both interested in this project being implemented in Indonesia, especially for girls and women in West Timor. Most women in West Timor still used secondhand cloth, that is not hygienic, to absorb their menstrual blood. So, it was important to improve knowledge regarding feminine hygiene and reproductive health. PHMF’s role was to buy the DfG kits and distribute them from DfG Australia Chapter to Indonesia. FMCH Indonesia then hold the health education training and deliver the DfG kits to the girls and women in West Timor.

DfG has rules of conduct to run this project. Firstly, we needed to register in order to receive DfG kits and give training. Then, we needed to complete online learning in order to become health ambassadors of Days for Girls. When we completed the training, we received a certificate from the ambassador of ‘Days For Girls’. It meant we officially could become Trainers. “I became aware of what materials were to be taught, but also understood why the program was good for women and how this program should be done,” said Helga Dyah, Manager of FMCH and an Ambassador of Days For Girl. Helga then trained four members of West Timor staff  –  a nutritionist, nurse, and a midwife. They are now able to give training to the girls in West Timor.

FMCH Indonesia received almost 300 DfG kits from PHMF.  The first batch of 159 kits were delivered to female students at Junior High School in Sunu Village, Amanatun Selatan Sub-District, West Timor. Before the training started, FMCH trainers undertook a pre –distribution survey of 126 girl students. This was an important thing to do because we could then work out whether the project was effective in teaching women. FMCH then collected the data for analysis. Ibu Marsa as lead trainer, then gave a presentation about DfG. The topics covered included puberty, female/male reproductive system, menstruation, how to use the DFG kits, and also trafficking of women and girls and self defence. When the training was complete the trainers gave DFG kits to each of the girls. Our theme was “Hi Girls, you are Lovable and Precious”, and our aim was to encourage them to grow up to be aware that every girl and woman is beautiful and strong and build their confidence.

On 13th November 2017, the trainers held DfG Individual Survey for Pre Distribution to 33 girls and women in Sunu Village and interviewed Head of School, Mr. Ongki, in regards this project. “I thought this project was very helpful for the girls here so my students can get to know more about her body and her needs”.

“I am very grateful to get these kits, because if I have a period, I always used old clothes or scarves. But they do not absorb menstrual blood properly. I am often worried about going to school when I was menstruating for fear of leaking in the skirt and later being laughed by my friends” said Denada (14 y.o).

Lead trainer Ms. Marsa went back to Sunu Village two weeks later and asked a girl who had used the kits for her thoughts. “I’ve put on the pads. I felt comfortable, because the material is not itchy and is very soft. Absorption is also good. I Like it. Hope I get more of the pads” (Nance, 14 y.o).