Location: Ndori, Kenya
Mission: Helping girls get the most out of their education
It was a simple but important gift. As part of a lesson on health, which included information about menstruation and other bodily changes, University of Minnesota Medical School students Robin Sautter and Alana Jackson distributed 300 “sanitary kits” to 300 girls in rural Kenya.
The kits contain reusable cloth sanitary pads with Velcro flaps, a washcloth, and soap. Many of the girls didn’t have access to pads, Sautter says, so instead they would use loose pieces of fabric or paper, or worse: “They just wouldn’t come to school. Some girls would stay home for weeks at a time. It makes a big difference in your education when you miss so many days.”
Sautter and Jackson, now third-year students who matriculated from the Medical School’s Duluth campus, were in Kenya for five weeks in the summer of 2014 setting up a mentorship program for high school students. The curriculum — taught through the Pamoja Kenya Mentorship Alliance, an organization one of Sautter’s friends founded — is made up of 10 lessons on leadership, covering such topics as time management, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking. They distributed the sanitary kits while they were there courtesy of a partner nonprofit called Days for Girls International.
Though the mentorship program is set up to be self-sustaining, Sautter is already looking to build on her powerful experience. “I’m anticipating going back there as soon as I can,” she says.