EMPOWERING WOMEN IS A KEY TO IMPROVING HEALTH

                             Donna Maione and our DREAMS students

                           Donna Maione and our DREAMS students

Brick by Brick has thrived because of the diversity of our international staff. In addition, to a skilled and dedicated team of Ugandan health and development professionals, we have been fortunate to have many international interns and consultants working along side our full time staff to realize our vision of quality health, education and economic opportunity available to all.

This month, our DREAMS Innovation Challenge/My Pads Program team has been joined by Donna Maione. Donna is an experienced consultant with expertise in organizational change management. Her particular focus is on environmental sustainability. Donna is working with our staff on our Seamstress Project, which is part of our DREAMS/My Pads Program. Our goal is to address the lack of access to affordable menstrual hygiene products for rural women. This inequity for many adolescent girls and young women, contributes to high drop out rates, which in turn increases the risk of early and often forced marriages as well as HIV infection.

The My Pads Program is a 9-session sexual and reproductive health education program for adolescent girls and young women. Thanks to funding through the U.S. State Department's DREAMS Innovation Challenge, we have expanded this program to sixteen secondary schools in the Rakai and Kyotera Districts. As part of this program, we are recruiting seamstresses at each participating school to train peer educators in how to make reusable menstrual pads using a basic foot powered sewing machine. Our goal is for this activity to generate income and provide pads at a price point that is reasonable for the women of our rural districts

Collaborating with our staff, Donna has been working on the design of the pads, our project work plan and budget, as well as the training materials for seamstresses and students. Over the past 14 years we have found that strong-cross cultural partnerships can be agents of change, as well as an opportunity for learning for all involved. Thank you Donna and the DREAMS Team!