TAIWANFEST TO EM­POWER KENYAN GIRLS >>>

The Georgia Straight - - Taiwan Fest -

Sev­eral years ago, Elle Yang re­ceived word that the girls that she and her church group spon­sored to at­tend school in Kenya were hav­ing trou­ble mak­ing it to class.

“We won­dered why, be­cause we were spon­sor­ing these girls to go to school,” Yang said on the phone from her home in Tai­wan. “We learned that af­ter school fees, they still had a prob­lem with san­i­tary tow­els, or pads. They couldn’t af­ford it be­cause we didn’t spon­sor that, so they had to stay in their home un­til their pe­riod fin­ished. We thought, ‘That’s crazy.’ ”

Yang, who is a project co­or­di­na­tor for a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion called Love, Binti, told the Straight that their first idea was sim­ply to fundraise and send tam­pons to the girls in Kenya, but they wor­ried that this so­lu­tion wasn’t sus­tain­able. In­stead, they de­cided they would send vol­un­teers to Kenya and teach ru­ral peo­ple there how to make their own re­us­able san­i­tary pads.

“We thought that was re­ally good be­cause they could make it on their own out of T-shirts and fleece jack­ets that can eas­ily be found in the lo­cal mar­ket,” Yang con­tin­ued. “So we started this project.”

This year, Van­cou­ver’s Taiwanfest has part­nered with Love, Binti (Swahili for “girls”), and is help­ing raise money for the project. Love, Binti also teaches would-be sup­port­ers in Canada and Tai­wan how to sew their own pads, which they can then send to Love, Binti’s peo­ple in Kenya.

“We posted a video about how to make them on­line, and peo­ple do that and send them to us,” Yang said. “Cana­dian peo­ple, even if they can’t af­ford to do­nate money, can do­nate their time to make san­i­tary tow­els.”

> BY TRAVIS LUPICK

At Taiwanfest, Love, Binti will have a booth where any­one in­ter­ested can drop by and learn how to sew a san­i­tary pad.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 United Na­tions re­port, one in 10 young women in sub-sa­ha­ran Africa misses school dur­ing her men­strual cy­cle. That doc­u­ment states that in Kenya, an es­ti­mated 2.6 mil­lion girls need fi­nan­cial sup­port to ob­tain hy­giene prod­ucts.

Love, Binti is a project of Step30 In­ter­na­tional Min­istries, which in 2016 re­ceived help from Taiwanfest in send­ing shoes to Kenya to help com­bat painful par­a­sites called chig­gers that can bur­row into peo­ple’s feet.

Yang added that Love, Binti’s lat­est project is all about sus­tain­abil­ity. “It’s a long-term so­lu­tion,” she said.

Van­cou­ver’s Taiwanfest and non­profit Love, Binti are fundrais­ing to help teach ru­ral Kenyans how to make their own re­us­able san­i­tary pads.

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