World Voice: No Girl Should Ever Miss School Because of her Period

World Voice: No Girl Should Ever Miss School Because of her Period

Delivering Kits

Delivering Kits

Last April, I traveled to Nicaragua, staying in the Chinandega, Managua and Granada regions of the country. I have traveled to many places, but never to Central America so I was really excited to embark on this new adventure. Nicaragua is famous for its volcanoes (including volcano boarding) and its amazing waterfront beaches where surfing is a must. It’s rich history, unique culture and incredible people make it an idea travel destination.

But Nicaragua has undergone many transformations over the years, rebuilding from internal unrest and strained global relations. Almost half of the Nicaraguan population lives below the poverty line. People struggle to provide the basic necessities to their children, and for many young girls, this can mean having to miss school when their periods start.

Nicaragua Clinic

Nicaragua Clinic

Just before going to Nicaragua, I met an amazing woman, Brenda Porter, living in my community who runs the local chapter of ‘Days for Girls’. I had never heard of the organization before reading about Brenda in the local newspaper. As the name suggests, Brenda and her countless volunteers, dedicate most of their free time to making and assembling sustainable menstruation kits, that are then brought all over the world to communities in need. With access to the menstruation kits, girls can attend school all year round, not missing school because of their periods. Missing a week of school per month has a huge impact on the educational success of girls. It means they are put at a disadvantage as soon as puberty hits. I connected with Brenda, and with the support of  my friends, travel companions and Brenda’s incredible ‘Days for Girls’ network, I was able to bring two suitcases full of menstruation kits to Nicaragua free of charge.

With the help of the owners of the eco-resort I stayed at, El Coco Loco, we were put in touch with an American nurse’ Margarite (Meg), who runs a health clinic in a rural area outside Chinandega (http://coenicaragua.weebly.com/). She was thrilled to receive the kits and held a sexual education clinic for local village girls before distributing the kits. She was so overwhelmed by the response of local girls to the kits, and had no idea that there was such a need in the community.

Days For Girls

Days For Girls

Days for Girls is a global organization. If you are travelling to countries where girls may be in need of the menstruation kits, I highly recommend reaching out to this wonderful organization. No girl should be put at a disadvantage in school when her period starts. And, if you have a local chapter nearby, please consider donating time to help cut material, sew pads and assemble kits.

For more information, please visit: www.daysforgirls.org

This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.

Picture Credits to the author

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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World Voice: Play Like A Girl

World Voice: Play Like A Girl

Canadian_PM_Justin_TrudeauHockey is Canada’s national winter sport, with most Canadians huddled around the television on Saturday nights to cheer on their favourite teams being featured on “Hockey Night in Canada”. Boys love hockey. Girls love hockey. And, they love it equally. But the treatment of both genders in the world of hockey is very different.
I live in a country where gender equality is of such importance.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was applauded for electing equal numbers of men and women to Cabinet during his 2015 election. When asked why this was important, he simply said “Because this is 2015”.

So true.
But gender equality in hockey does not always exist in Canada. Not even in 2016. And this is incredibly frustrating for the many girls and women who live and breathe the sport throughout the year. I have three daughters, and two play hockey. I have overheard men in our community, as I was rushing into an arena on a cold winter morning with one of my daughters, making comments about how it is a waste for girls’ hockey teams to be given ice time, as it was taking away from the boys. Our highest ranking women’s Canadian hockey teams never get the media coverage they deserve. Most Canadians don’t even know these female leagues exist, despite the incredible talent and sportsmanship these young women exhibit game after game.
This inequality is trickling through to younger generations as well. My one daughter plays on a co-ed hockey team. At only 10 years of age, she is already having to hear the boys on the bench tell each other NOT to pass to her because she is a girl.

One of our greatest Canadian hockey players, Hayley Wickenheiser, has spoken about the challenges girls face in sport. When people would say to her, “Girls don’t play hockey; girls don’t skate”, she would say – watch this!

Staying true to her word, Hayley has won multiple Olympic medals for hockey. Decades later, however, little girls who look up to Wickenheiser are still having to defend their place in Canadian hockey.
This is 2016, so when someone says you “play like a girl” it should be taken as a compliment. After all, this is Canada, a nation that prides itself on equality.

This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.

Photo credit to the author

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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WORLD VOICE: Climate Change – Through the Eyes of our Children

WORLD VOICE: Climate Change – Through the Eyes of our Children

IMG_1356 (2)This week, as I was catching up on news headlines, a notification appeared announcing the 80th birthday of David Suzuki. David Suzuki is one of the most recognized and respected environmental scientists and activists of our time. And, he is Canadian – something I am very proud of.  But when I shared this tidbit of information with my daughters, they didn’t share my enthusiasm. What I soon realized is that his name meant very little to them. How did this happen?

I remember being a child and thinking of David Suzuki as a homegrown hero. I would eventually study environmental science in university and graduate school, and then work as an environmental consultant. I think much of my career path was shaped by the Suzuki movement in Canada.

The very first fundraiser that I ever organized as a child was to save polar bears. Why were my daughters not feeling the same way? Sure, they love and respect nature, and spend their summer days exploring outdoors from dawn to dusk, but they were not nearly as passionate about environmental issues as I was when I was their age.

In response to this realization, I made a trip to our local bookstore and purchased a children’s book on climate change written by David Suzuki, himself. We then proceeded to hold mini-discussions within our family on various environmental issues. I have to admit, that I found it incredibly difficult. Climate change is scary. When you hear that a 2 degree Celsius change, in the global average temperature, can have devastating effects on the world in which we live, it underscores just how delicately balanced the earth really is.

Explaining this to young children is just as delicately balanced. How do you ensure they understand the severity of the issue, without making the situation terrifying and seemingly hopeless?

Through our discussions, my girls began to not only learn about the science behind climate change, but also about what they could do to limit their impact on the environment. They are becoming more and more passionate about environmental issues by the day. They now have countless ideas on how they can “help the environment”. One of their big concerns is parents idling cars in school pick-up zones. They plan on approaching their school to come up with a ban on idling, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It may be a small step, but it is a start. And, it allows school-aged children to not only have a direct part in reducing GHG emissions but also provides an avenue in which to have further climate change discussions at home, at school and within the community. I truly think that they understand the severity of climate change now, but their passion and commitment to change the future far outweighs their fear.

This all caused me to wonder how others, around the world, address the issue of climate change with their children.

Are there any resources or approaches that you use that others would benefit from knowing about?

This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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WORLD VOICE: #GivingTuesday, A Day to Give Back

WORLD VOICE: #GivingTuesday, A Day to Give Back

2015 WMB Quote Anne Frank

 

Typically, after Thanksgiving in the United States, the following Friday and Monday, known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, kick off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday, in the stores and Cyber Monday, online. However, Giving Tuesday follows and is what now kicks off the holiday “Giving Season.” This movement has been around for several years already.

With so much poverty around the world, the fact that a movement, based entirely on the giving of time and money, is gaining momentum gives me great hope. Did you know that you do not just have to give money on Giving Tuesday? You can, instead, donate your time. This means many more of us can get involved.

How great is a movement that the whole world can participate in as a collective unit with one goal in mind: to give?

So take today to think about the something you want to change most in the world. And give. Give of your money. Give of your time. Give only what you can. From around the world to your local community, find out how you can participate today, Tuesday, December 1st.

As each year of Giving Tuesday goes by, more and more organizations are getting involved, which plays at my heart strings. For example, here, in Canada this is the first year that Waterloo Region in Canada will be launching Giving Tuesday in an official manner. The community is rallying around local groups and causes in a way that I would never have imagined!

Let’s kick off the giving season and make this the most memorable Giving Tuesday the world has known to date.

A Note From our Founder:

Today, World Moms Blog asks our readers to consider volunteering, donating and/or advocating for these 4 organizations that have been created by our contributors or employ them. Click on over to see why they are worthy of your #GivingTuesday love!

  • Mom2Mom Africa helps to educate and provide a better life for children in Tanzania. What started as a penpal project of a mom in Canada, turned into an education sponsorship program, a school being built, class trips provided and much more!
  • Cleanbirth.org, which helps to provide a safer birth experience for mothers in Laos through clean birth kits and nurse midwife training. Started by an American mom who pledged to single-handedly take on poor maternal health statistics.
  • The Advocates for Human Rights is the workplace of our resident contributor and human rights lawyer. The organization provides opportunities to volunteer, donate and/or advocate for their life saving and life changing work to help people worldwide.
  • Edesia makes Plumpy’Nut which helps provide nutrition for children who need it most in the developing world. And did you know that our Managing Editor works there in digital media?

Tell us what you’re doing for Giving Tuesday…

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Alison Fraser, in Canada. 

 

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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WORLD VOICE: Summer Reading with Meaning

WORLD VOICE: Summer Reading with Meaning

 

WMB Alison's Book Stack 500

I am an avid reader, especially during the summer months, reading outside each evening with my daughters under the stars on our back porch. I go back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, between heart-wrenching and laugh out loud funny, and between popular bestsellers and hidden gems. So, I thought I would share my meaningful reads list for this summer. These are most often the hidden gems that aren’t featured on lists of number one hits but are just as good, if not better, than those popular reads.

I won’t go into detail about plots and story-lines, but will say that each of these books was a page turner that left me pondering what I had read for weeks after.

If I had to pick a favourite, I would decline…it would be too difficult. But, if I had to pick one that resonated the most with me, it would be “If Nuns Ruled the World”.

Being a Catholic myself, I have always felt that nuns were never given the credit they deserved for the work they were doing throughout the world. We all know of Mother Theresa and her work with the sick, lonely and poor, but not much more is known of nuns working in this day and age. We often hear stories of the Pope and those of the Vatican, but what about those hard-working nuns who are on the ground changing lives every single day in the most adverse of conditions???

This book features the incredible stories of nuns who have taken chances, gone against protocol, helped those that others had given up on, and did it all under the watchful eye of many who disapproved of their work. These nuns are courageous, spunky, lively, funny and most of all, selfless and good-hearted.

I was so inspired by their stories that I wrote to a few of them to let them know….and they wrote me back!

I can honestly say that if the nuns who were featured in this book, really did rule the world, it would be a world of peace, justice, love, acceptance and empathy.

When my three young daughters saw me compiling this list, they too wanted to be involved. They hurried to find their favourite meaningful reads and have compiled them here as well:

Alison's Book Stack 2 500

 

Quynn, who is 8, loves the book “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors” and has wanted to become a doctor ever since.

Camryn, who is 10, loves the “Who is/was…” series. She has read about Jane Goodall, Hellen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart, to name just a few.  Wanting to be a pilot, she especially loves all books about Amelia Earhart.

Ryleigh, who is 11 loves to read about Anne Frank and anything related to the Holocaust. She read “Number the Stars” in two days and has not stopped talking about it. It is so hard for her to wrap her young mind around the stories of girls her age who survived such atrocities in our history.

So, if you are looking for some great books to read this summer, we hope that you will enjoy some of our recommendations. And, if you have suggestions for us, we would love to hear those as well!

What is on your summer reading list?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Alison Fraser who is founder of the non-profit Mom2MomAfrica.

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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SOCIAL GOOD: The Power of Kind Words

SOCIAL GOOD: The Power of Kind Words

Dallaire2

The author Alison Fraser pictured here with General Romeo Dallaire

I have written before on the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand with running a not for profit organization or charity. As we all know, negative words can have a huge impact on how we view ourselves and our work.

What I now realize, is that I have completely underestimated the power of kind words.

Let me explain…

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to meet General Romeo Dallaire at a local charity event. General Dallaire is a highly respected Canadian general. He braved the Rwandan genocide of 1994, essentially remaining to help when most everyone else left Rwanda, and the world turned a blind eye to the extreme brutality taking place in the African country.  As the guest of honour at the event, he spoke of the global injustices plaguing our world and causing, what he refers to, as global rage. We see this rage daily as the stories make headlines. According to General Dallaire, two of the main sources of this rage are our failures with respect to the: (1) empowerment of women and (2) education of children. I felt so uplifted to hear that the work we at Mom2Mom Africa are doing addresses two of the most important social injustices identified by someone as worldly and experienced as General Dallaire.

Dallaire1

I raced to introduce myself to him after he spoke, and we chatted briefly about my work in Tanzania. I was so nervous but he put me right at ease. He was so humble and kind. And, at the end, he turned to me and said;

“young lady, keep doing what you are doing. It is the work of small, grassroots organizations like yours that will change the world”.

I could have cried right there on the spot; not out of sadness but instead out of pure joy. This man, who had inspired me in so many ways, just washed away all of my insecurities and doubts, with only a few words.

As the Buddha once said..

“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world”.

How great it is when someone, who is such an inspiration and role model, takes the time to encourage others, no matter how small their impact is on the world. Imagine what would happen if this was common practice? What if we built each other up instead of tearing each other down? What if we collaborated and focussed on common goals? Imagine what would be accomplished if we all spent more time being kind and supportive, especially those in positions of power. I am not sure if General Dallaire will ever know just how much his kind words meant to me. He gave me the strength to keep moving forward, to keep tackling and overcoming the obstacles that so many of us face. I will be forever grateful to this man, and I can only hope that others, who are in positions of influence, will follow General Dallaire’s lead. I am so proud of my fellow Canadian!

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Alison Fraser of Mom2Mom Africa

Do you remember kind words from another that may have inspired you in your life?

Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser is the mother of three young girls ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Alison works as an Environmental Toxicologist with a human environment consulting company and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). She is also the founder and director of the Canadian Not for Profit Organization, Mom2Mom Africa, which serves to fund the school fees of children and young women in rural Tanzania. Recently recognized and awarded a "Women of Waterloo Region" award, Alison is very involved in charitable events within her community including Christmas Toy and School Backpack Drives for the local foodbank.

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