Why Underwear is Important

Did you know that the average American woman owns approximately 21 pairs of underwear? About 10% of women own over 35 pairs.

Did you know underwear can mean the difference between a girl who’s educated with a chance for a bright future, and one who’s not?

Sometimes it just blows my mind how much I don’t know.  Recently I learned some not-fun facts about the challenges facing women in Uganda, including the challenge of underwear.  But I also learned something I can do about it.  And boy that feels good.

I’ve written before that our daughter Maggie is working in Northern Uganda this summer at Pader Girls’ Academy.  They teach and give vocational training to girls, many who have escaped the Lords’ Resistance Army, but can’t return to their communities.  They have become outcasts because of the stigma of being raped by soldiers or having babies out of wedlock.

But even after they have a tiny glimpse of hope for the future through education, there are still hurdles.  For example, I learned that girls often miss about 5 days of school a month when they have their period because they don’t have sanitary pads.  Or underwear.

Are you freaking kidding me?

So here’s what Maggie has been doing.  She is teaching the girls to write letters to different companies to empower them to advocate for themselves.  They’re writing letters to personal hygiene companies asking for donations.  How cool is that?

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“I am a total orphan girl who have lose both parents and up to now am alone and am struggling for my school fee and requirements and am always working in people’s garden to get some resources. But not only me but also other student are also working for the resources like pads, knickers, soap and towels.  And we are missing class because of menstruation period…if these things are provided, it will make learning to be easy for us girls.  And I would like to be a nurse in future.”

Maggie’s hope is to have a closet at the academy, stocked with supplies that could be accessed by any student in need.

But she thinks the most sustainable thing for the long-run is teaching the girls to make reusable pads.  10347568_10100451551774059_4621921397259177387_nHer hope is to raise money to buy materials for them to continue sewing (and selling) their own pads and soap.
Meanwhile, we’ve done a drive to collect underwear and pads to send over with Maggie’s husband, Austin, when he goes the beginning of August. This “operation underwear” is important because underwear and sanitary pads make consistent education possible, and education can change the trajectory of the life.
What can you do? Glad you asked!
1.  Learn more about how to help without hurting. One of the things we’ve learned when we encounter problems around the world, is to resist swooping in with our super hero cape on.
Sometimes in trying to help, we actually hurt the folks we care about.  We create dependence, or show lack of respect, or cultural insensitivity, and it becomes more about us feeling good about ourselves and our generosity than making a sustainable difference.  If you want a great book to read on this, check out Toxic Charity.photo-143
2.  Ask yourself, “What do I know that I can do something about?  Investigate, pray about a plan, then do it.  Like I wrote Monday, start small.  Like mobilizing people to donate underwear to change the trajectory of the future of girls in Uganda.
Want to learn more about Pader Girls Academy and the challenges women there face?

6 thoughts on “Why Underwear is Important

  1. It’s wonderful that Maggie’s husband Austin will have luggage full of women’s personal products. I would love to see the TSA agent give a random check and ask what’s up with women’s underwear in a man’s suitcase. Austin could tell him all about the need and solutions. Spread the word.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura,
    This has been an issue that has touched my heart for years. Not only a global issue but a local issue. Do you remember when we had bins in the CPC womens bathrooms collecting product for local charities? We called it “Mission With Wing’s”. So many people were moved not realising how something as basic was considered a luxury vs. a necessity.We came to discover many were
    forced to use newspaper as an alternative to feminine hygyine products. It was powerful to see our church community come together to support local women.Thank you for sharing this and Thank you to Maggie for touching the lives of these women!


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