Days for Girls began in 2008 when Founder and CEO Celeste Mergens was working with a family foundation in the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya where she began assisting an orphanage. In the wake of historic post-election violence, the population at the orphanage had swelled from 400 children to 1,400.
As she was getting prepared to return to Nairobi, Celeste went to bed with the devastating situation weighing heavy on her mind. In the middle of the night, she woke up with a nagging question: “What are girls doing for feminine hygiene?” Seeking an answer, she ran to the computer and sent an email to the Assistant Director of the orphanage.
He replied right away, “Nothing. They wait in their rooms.”
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Celeste learned that girls were sitting on cardboard for several days each month, often going without food unless someone would bring it to them. This set in motion her first intervention - disposable pads. But Celeste and her team quickly discovered a major problem - without any place to dispose of the pads, this was neither a viable nor a sustainable solution. It was time for Plan B: a washable, long-lasting pad.
The first Days for Girls Kits were quite different from the design in use today. Each of the 28 iterations that followed would be informed by extensive feedback and designed to meet unique cultural and environmental conditions in communities throughout the world. What would eventually become clear in the years following Days for Girls’ beginning was just how much of a difference hygiene solutions would make in assisting women and girls to break the cycle of poverty and live lives of dignity.
Today, Days for Girls has reached more than one million women and girls in 125+ countries with DfG Kits and menstrual health education. This translates into over 115 million days of dignity, health, and opportunity!
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