I was thrilled to be invited to India to photograph the aid work of Destitute 2 Destiny. Although I no longer work full-time in humanitarian aid, my heart is still full of compassion, especially for marginalized women and children. A charity under the umbrella of Hope for the Nations, D2D is passionately committed to improving the lives of the poor and oppressed.
In the past few years, D2D has provided water wells, invested in education, planted gardens, empowered women with micro-enterprise, helped keep girls in school, and other vital projects. For more project photos, click here. In addition to visiting these projects, we chose a new, compelling issue to tackle on this trip: the woeful lack of feminine hygiene education and products available to girls and women. Our research uncovered a shocking, hidden problem - up to 23% of girls drop out of school due to a lack of sanitary wear, either due to unaffordability or unavailability. We decided to tackle this problem from two sides. First, an amazing group of ladies in Kelowna got to work, sewing washable, reusable sanitary pad kits. Thanks to their hard work, we were able to take 340 kits to distribute, accompanied by much-needed education on feminine reproduction and hygiene. Some of the women, even many who were married and had children, had no idea of the purpose of their periods, their reproductive systems, or how it all worked.
Destitute to Destiny founder, Carol Jones
Secondly, our generous donors provided the funds for us to purchase and disburse 41 sewing machines - enabling 41 women to start sewing to support their families, and provide sanitary pad kits to their own market. The women would make payments for the machines into a co-op, with the funds to be used to purchase more machines, creating a perpetual project. Linda Hayes, a professional seamstress from Kelowna, taught the women how to sew the sanitary pads and liners. Everyone loved her humorous style of teaching!
We even did one workshop by lantern, and then cell phone light after the power went off! Thankfully, most of the sewing machines could be used both with electricity AND treadle. The power goes off regularly in India, sometimes several times a day, and you never know when it will come back on.
Our team of three - Carol, Linda, and myself, travelled throughout India, teaching seven workshops in five areas. It was quite the adventure - shopping for fabric in torrential rain; many hours of travel by train, plane, car, and subway; teaching with or without electricity; and surviving the traffic chaos. So many precious people! We're hoping we made their lives a tiny bit better!
For more photos of this project, and the workshops, click here.