FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Daytona Beach Chapter of the Links, Inc. and Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church are partnering to undertake a project to help empower women and girls, and, ultimately, the economies in their communities and in Kenya, Africa.
The journey for this “service-to-others” project began when Jessie Childs, a former elementary school principal in Volusia County, was visiting her mother. Childs explained that while visiting her family in Alachua, Fla., she observed her young cousin, Joanie Perkins, diligently sewing reusable feminine items for girls and women in the Sudan.
Joanie’s Girl Scout Troop had committed to making 200 “comfort kits’’ that included reusable products and other hygiene products to send to the Sudan. Childs immediately had the “I can help too” attitude.
Upon returning to Daytona Beach, she shared the sewing project information with some members of Stewart Memorial and The Links. The general thought was that this actually was something the groups could do to impact the lives of others.
Met Kenya’s governor
As fate would have it, a mission/tourist team from Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church, led by their minister, Dr. Silas M’Mworia and his wife, Dr. Damaris M’Mworia, traveled to Kenya in May. While there, they visited with Gov. Samuel Mbae and his wife, Lucy Njeri Mbae. Mr. Mbae, the brother of Dr. Damaris M’Mworia, is the governor of Tharaka Nithi in Kenya.
During the visit, Mrs. Mbae informed the delegation from Stewart Memorial that her initiative as first lady of Tharaka Niti is to remove an obstacle that makes it difficult for the female children from poor homes in Kenya to excel in school.
Many girls in Kenya are being deprived of their education when they reach puberty, simply because they do not have the necessary feminine products that allow them to sit in a classroom.
Some girls miss one to two weeks of school each month. Thus, they fall behind in their studies and have poor school performance.
Not only is their education interrupted, many of these young girls become ill from poor hygiene practices, and others marry at a very early age, become pregnant, and die in childbirth.
Childs was convinced that this project was something that needed to be undertaken. The Rev. and Dr. M’Mworia and the other church members from Stewart Memorial agreed, and offered their support for the project.
Kenyan visit to Daytona
In June, Childs presented the plan to the Daytona Beach Chapter of The Links, along with Celestine Hinson, chair of the chapter’s International Trends and Services Program facet. They told of their first-hand experience in talking with the girls in Tharaka Nithi and the need for support that they personally observed. Lucy Bell, chapter president, and the chapter members wholeheartedly accepted the proposal. After that, it seemed as if all the pieces to make it a reality began to fall in place.
On July 7, Governor Mbae visited Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church to meet with Girl Scout Troop 733, who draws members from Alachua, High Springs and Gainesville.
Take training to Kenya
The ultimate goal is to do more than just make and distribute the kits. Rev. M’Mworia plans to take a small mission delegation to Kenya again. This time the delegation will work with Mbae, churches and other organizations, and the women of the community. They will teach the women of the community how to start their own programs to make and supply comfort kits and training for the women of Kenya. The hope is that this will have a positive economic impact on the community.
For more information about this project and how an individual, organization or a sewing group can become involved, contact Jessie Childs at 386-255-1895 or Celestine Hinson at 386- 615-8108.