GEM Focuses on Menstrual Health and Financial Savings
Under Darline Nicolas’ leadership, the 100 members of GEM (the Girls’ Empowerment and Mentoring Program) participate in a comprehensive curriculum meant to help them succeed in all areas of life. Just consider two topics GEM has focused on lately: menstrual health and financial savings/income generation. Darline and GEM mentors have creatively designed the agendas of these GEM sessions.
In one GEM club meeting, after a discussion about girls’ health, each GEM member received a Days for Girls kit. The kits make it simple for girls to manage their menstrual cycle and easily go about their usual routines when they’re on their periods. The kits are packaged in drawstring bags to carry sanitary items between school and home. The included absorbent liners and shields are brightly colored to camouflage staining, and the liners unfold to the size and shape of a washcloth, meaning they can be discreetly washed and dried outside.
On another Thursday meeting, Darline and participants explored the topic of finances, including an inventive mechanism for girls to generate income and save their earnings. Knowing that most students typically bring about 25 Gourdes (approximately 29 cents in US currency) each day to school, Darline encouraged the girls to set aside 10 Gourdes (approximately 12 cents in US currency) every week. On Thursdays, the girls temporarily “deposit” their savings with Darline, who acts as a banker for the participants since there is no official bank in Petit Trou. She will return the deposits to each girl as summer break begins in June.
Darline’s goal is for GEM members to use their savings as capital in order to experiment with starting small businesses, such as selling hair ribbons, over summer break. Once school resumes in September, girls plan on purchasing school supplies with their earnings.
(Special thanks to a group of CHP supporters for connecting CHP and Days for Girls: Linda Rowe and friends, and the St. Bartholomew community in Estes Park. Interested in becoming involved? Email email@example.com)