Empowering women with education
Kathryn Lynskey is the mother of four girls, so she is certainly very familiar with ‘‘girl things’’.
With the four girls growing up and with her 50th birthday approaching, last year she decided she wanted to do something to mark the occasion.
Lynskey is the team leader for Days for Girls North Canterbury, an organisation aims to empower women across the globe by providing sustainable feminine hygiene solutions and health education.
‘‘I got thinking about volunteering and began searching online,’’ she said. ‘‘I’d been to Laos before, and I found this website and women’s empowerment came up. I noticed some Days for Girls information on their website and they were looking for the right person to teach people how to sew. I just thought it was meant to be.’’
Lynskey is back after a fourmonth stint overseas and she is putting the experience down as one of the most rewarding in her life.
‘‘They had never seen a sewing machine before. I taught a group of women to use one to make bags and the kits, and four weeks later we had a number of women sewing [feminine hygiene] kits as well as we do in New Zealand.’’
The project has really taken off and is even enabling young women to earn money for themselves with their new sewing skills. A complete new team has also been trained up which will go and share their learning to empower more groups elsewhere around southeast Asia.
The Days for Girls North Canterbury team donated many items to the new Laos team, including an overlocker, fabric, scissors and other sewing equipment, as well as 150 pre-made kits, which will be distributed to surrounding villages, with help from the team in Palmerston North.
Lynskey also had enough funding to be able to buy an industrial sewing machine for the new sewing team to use.
‘‘It was a really awesome experience. The 16 and 17 year olds were right into it. And the great thing is now they can make money for themselves.’’
Now that she is back in New Zealand she is determined to go back, but until then she will always have a connection with the area as she and her husband will be supporting a two-year-old girl through her schooling. Her mother left her with her father, a tuk-tuk driver, when she was a baby and she now sleeps in a hammock in the back while he works.
On top of all this, Lynskey is also hoping to get a local initiative off the ground which would see packs made up for new mothers and babies.
Donations and offers of help are always welcome, so if you have some spare time for a good cause, visit Days for Girls North Canterbury’s Facebook page.
Kathryn Lynskey from Kaiapoi is just back from a four-month trip to Laos where she taught women how to sew.