Cutting and sewing to make a difference for girls in Kenya

“We can do this!” I was excited to get our Women’s Fellowship at Shepherd of the Prairie Church in Fargo, N.D. involved in helping others. Listening to a presenter from a non-profit group helping girls in Kenya, I realized this was our chance.

As we listened a little more, Maureen Hahn said, “I’ll bring my serger.” I added that I would bring my sewing machine; Charlotte Carlson chimed in too. It was set: at least six of us would show up the following Saturday to cut flannel, make bags and sew.

Our project: to make reusable sanitary pads for adolescent girls in Kenya. Unlike many women around the world, girls in the Tharaka-Nithi region of Kenya don’t have money to buy sanitary pads. African adolescent girls in remote areas miss school during their menstrual periods and eventually drop out because of menstruating issues. They can miss as many as three-to-five days of school every month during their monthly periods due to the lack of sanitary pads. My heart just feels for these girls as their missed classes lead to low academic standards.

Beginning by listening

Our project started when one of our members, Joan Macdonald, asked her friend to talk with us over lunch. We were all ears. We could not believe there were women without the commercial convenience of sanitary pads.

Our presenters were a mother/daughter team who set out to help these girls in Kenya. The mother, Sharon Secor, is a retired Presbyterian youth director; her daughter, Molly Secor-Turner, is a North Dakota State University registered nurse working globally with young girls to learn about puberty.

Both Sharon and Molly have been working for 20 years with the girls in Kenya. Molly helped create “For the Good Period,” an all-volunteer nonprofit organization to provide school-age girls with reusable menstrual pads and reproductive health education helping to eliminate the lack of access to menstrual products. But they also need more volunteers to help.

And this is where we came in. Our small congregation has an average of 35 active members but we are blessed with a want to do Christ’s work.

Sewing for a cause

We gathered at church with portable sewing machines in hand and 16 yards of fabric. Ladies came with cutting pads and rotary cutters, stickpins, tape measurers and scissors. Those ladies who came to cut learned how to use the cutting pads and rotary cutters.

The serger was hot taking the cut flannel and serging around the edges. Charlotte and I sewed bags with pull strings to put 6 serged flannel pads in to give each girl.

Our goal was to help make 2ooo flannel pads for this organization. We had eight yards of flannel that were cut to size for 72 pads and eight yards of cotton print to make 146 bags.

This is just a beginning, a start for us. It’s not me as the president of the Women’s Fellowship that made this happen but these Moravian ladies who saw a need and a purpose for our help.

We are a small group of volunteers wanting to help and are growing, as more women are getting involved with our project. We just want to make a difference.

Sylvia Medd is Women’s Fellowship president at Shepherd of the Prairie Moravian Church in Fargo, North Dakota. Photos courtesy of Sylvia. To learn more about “For the Good Period,” visit          

From the March 2016 Moravian Magazine