What a year this has been and you would think that from my lack of posts – we have not been busy – actually the total reverse is true! We have been so busy with our sewing and packing that the website has been sadly not updated as it should be! Never mind – maybe that is a new years resolution for 2021 that I might be able to keep.
As I reflect on 2020 I reflect on the resilience of our volunteers – not only Canberra based but Australia and the World. Our team has actually sent more clothing and DFG kits to the world this year than any other year – and world wide – DFG International seem to be almost at the 2 million kit mark – that is 2million girls and women who have dignity and can go to school or work and change their community.
We began sewing and packing again in July, when it was safe to do so, and we have sent two huge shipments in both July and October to Pakistan which will keep things going there for the next 6 months so we can concentrate on the very real need in the Philippines.
At a Bosom Buddies High Tea I was delighted to meet Micaela who along with her family is providing consistent and very needed support to the slum city on the garbage dump in the Philippines. It was one of those light bulb moments where you meet the right person at just the right time – and as I spoke to her and the work that is happening there – I knew we had to be involved.
Firstly she in contact with Evelyn who she sends supplied too every month – a box (huge and unlimited weight) costs just $100 to transport over there by sea. Micaela and her family and friends have been donating items through this system – and when I heard about it we just had to help. So for our November packing day we packed 5 boxes – 216 DFG kits, all the clothing we had, school supplies, bras and toiletries. We filled them to the brim and as I write this – delivery is fairly close now….. and we are excited.
Evelyn has completed her Ambassador of Women’s Health training with Days for Girls so she will be able to distribute training and the kits to girls and women in her area – we are committed to supporting her for six months initially and will keep identifying how we can best help her. I cannot imagine living on a dump where people eek out a living from foraging, kids need gumboots otherwise their feet get infected, shelter is inadequate and management of a monthly period , toileting and even eating is primitive at best. Add to that a typoon in November where many people lost their dwellings and you can see what they face, everyday.
I am beyond grateful that we have wonderful teams around Australia who are able to assist in the provision of DFG kits – and have almost 1000 pledged for the Philippines. For the first time ever, I have been able to buy 1000 pair of underwear through our successful fundraising!! These undies will go into the kits (they are small girls size 8 to 10) and we will replace the undies of larger sizes so the girls can use the kits in total with the appropriate size undies.
In addition to the ‘normal’ we were very successful in holding two markets at Pearce, where we ran a craft market and we were able to not only donated the stall holders fees, but we sold our amazing tote bags and made enough funds to support the freight of the Philippines and Pakistan this year. This was such a relief, as the tote bags are very popular – but it is more than that – we use the stall to raise awareness and the ladies do a magnificent job!! I cannot begin to tell you how this has a flow on effect – donations of fabric, being asked to speak at events, new volunteers….I thank the 12 wonderful ladies who helped at the market (6 per day) – it was an astounding success and we are booked in for 4 markets next year. We even have our own EFTPOS machine now to take payments.
Lubna has had a number of health issues and of course COVID has caused a lot of problems in getting clothing, DFG kits and bras out to the women who need them in 2020. However, Lubna does travel as she is able and she has a huge stockpile for when things open up again.
We also donated a number of DFG kits to the WYAM ship to Papua New Guinea this year – Kerrie Huxham collects kits when she can, and we willingly assisted her with kits this year – as they say ‘Periods don’t pause for pandemics.’
While 2020 has been a huge challenge, I know that in the rest of the world where we serve, services are at breaking point. No medical assistance, financial security and no income, is something that they are dealing with everyday. I always keep in my mind that we are so fortunate to live where we do, and most of us have housing, something to eat and perhaps one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This drives me to assist others, and I know that you feel the call too! So from the bottom of my heart – thank you! For every stitch, donation, hour, and chat – we could not have done what we do, without you!
For 2021 we will be meeting on the 4th Sunday of the month – this will make it easier for everyone to remember and are already booked in at Pearce ACT – everyone is welcome. Shortly I will update the calendar and pop the link up here.
Thank you for your support, the cuppas and the humour! We have had an amazing year and I look forward to a fantastic 2021.