ITA Alumni Charity Highlight: Dignity Period

ITA Alumni Charity Highlight: Dignity Period

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At ITA, giving back is who we are. For our 10th Anniversary, we've asked ITA students to pitch us an organization that means a lot to them. Over 20 submissions later, 3 finalists had the opportunity to pitch their Charity live to the ITA staff for a chance to win $2,000, $1,000 or $750 donated to the cause they support.

We invite you to learn more about the organizations they are involved with, and to donate to their causes as well.

Below is ITA's alumna Heleen Benett's Charity pick, Dignity Period, who won the first prize of $2,000 donated to their cause.

Read more: ITA's Charitable Initiatives.

 

Dignity Period | Heleen Benett

Tell us what this Charity does.

In Ethiopia, talking about menstruation is taboo. As a result, most girls are fearful and unprepared when they start having periods. These girls often miss school, fall behind in their studies, and eventually drop out. The school dropout rate for girls in Ethiopia is 51%, while only 30% for boys. When Dignity Period’s founders came to understand that menstruation is often the cause of the gender discrepancy in the dropout rate, the organization was born.

Dignity Period helps Ethiopian girls stay in school by providing the supplies and education they need to manage menstruation. This means the opportunity for a better life. Dignity Period’s mission is to keep Ethiopian girls in school by ensuring that they have access to quality menstrual hygiene products and education. The organization believes that girls deserve education, equality, and dignity - period.

Dignity Period

Why are you nominating this Charity?

I am nominating Dignity Period for this funding opportunity because I truly believe in the goals and mission of the organization. Dignity Period is incredibly dedicated to supporting young women throughout Ethiopia by providing them with free, reusable menstrual pads. They also accompany menstrual hygiene product distributions with comprehensive student trainings regarding reproductive health, which inform students of the changes that will occur in their bodies in order to best prepare for their health.

But, most notably, I support Dignity Period because it was initiated thanks to the lived experience of an Ethiopian woman named Freweini Mebrahtu. Freweini struggled with access to menstrual hygiene products herself while growing up. After moving to the United States to attend college and witnessing the abundance of menstrual product availability, she decided to move back to Ethiopia and create a project that invested in the future of the young women of her country. Through her efforts, Freweini was awarded the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year distinction. Dignity Period’s mission and vision of supporting the menstrual health of young women in Ethiopia is successful because it is so dedicated to integrating the wealth of knowledge that is available through local narratives. By creating solutions that are regionally applicable and culturally sensitive, the project continues to thrive.

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Why is this Charity important to you?

From 2016 to 2018, I served as a Peace Corps Ethiopia Volunteer in a small, rural town called Mere Meity. In the summer of 2017, I directed a gender equality summit, Camp Girls Leading Our World (GLOW), for young adults in Mekelle, Tigray. The week-long seminar was funded through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Ethiopia. I managed a team of 15 American volunteers and 5 host country nationals to facilitate gender equality and HIV prevention trainings for 50 local students aged 13 – 15 at the University of Mekelle Adi Haki Campus. I was also able to bring 5 students from my site to attend. Before the program, I coordinated with local female leaders and business owners from Mekelle to hold a career panel for the students. At that time, I was connected with Freweini Mebrahtu and her wonderful mission with Dignity Period and Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory.

ITA Student Heleen BennettAfter introducing her to our students and hearing her speak, I was inspired to continue to collaborate with her further to support her mission of menstrual equity. Therefore, I extended my Peace Corps service for an additional three months to work directly with Dignity Period as the staff’s Technical Adviser. I designed and implemented staff trainings, attended menstrual hygiene product distributions at schools, and interviewed staff members regarding their own menstrual stories in Tigrinya. Through their own initiative, the Dignity Period staff even traveled to Mere Meity and distributed reusable menstrual pads at the local primary and secondary schools.

The mission of Dignity Period will always be near and dear to my heart, especially because it positively impacted so many young women from my Peace Corps site that I remain in close contact with.

Interested in supporting Dignity Period? Check out their website to get involved just like ITA alumna Heleen Benett!

Read more: ITA's Charitable Initiatives.

 

Posted In: ITA Cares

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