Friday, September 26, 2008

Seize This Day to Make a Difference

I’m offering you an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a young woman in an orphanage in Africa, but this is a carpe diem type of opportunity, one with a drop-dead date and place. The date is October 20, 2008, and the place is Lynden, Washington.

Stay with me and I’ll explain.

Yesterday I met Celeste Mergens, director of Project Thrive, an organization dedicated to sustainable solutions to the needs of vulnerable children in the world, particularly those in orphanages and on the streets. Celeste, a member of the Lynden Ward, Bellingham Washington Stake, is a dynamo. She has only been with Project Thrive for seven months, but she’s already making good things happen. Visit the Project Thrive web site. You’ll be impressed with the goals, and particularly with the Five To Thrive Model (click on ‘About Us’ to find it).

Celeste is working right now with the Academy of Hidden Talents, an orphanage in the Dagoretti Slums of Kenya.
When she began, there were five hundred children there. Since the civil unrest in Kenya, the number has swelled to over a thousand.

Celeste says she depends on the spirit in her work, and it often manifests itself in the form of questions she is prompted to ask. One of these questions is: What form of feminine hygiene do the girls of the orphanage use during their menstrual periods? The answer: None. The girls stay in their rooms, sitting on their beds, during the three or four days of flow. They have no alternative, as they have no access to supplies that would allow them to join the rest of the children in learning, play or work.

The solution is not to provide American-type sanitary products for these girls, because disposal avenues are non-existent, and with the problem of AIDS, it could also compromise the health of others nearby. The answer is washable, reusable feminine hygiene kits.

Here’s where seizing the day comes in:

Celeste is traveling to Kenya on October 23. She needs to have kits in hand on October 20. She needs to take 500 kits with her, each kit consisting of:
6 feminine pads according to pattern below
2 pair panties (she will provide)
1 bar hotel soap
1 gallon ziplock bag
4 large safety pins
1 washcloth
1 drawstring bag in colorful cotton/poly cloth big enough to contain all of the

SWAN has committed to do part of these kits, but with the time constraint, it’s not possible to do it all.

Pastor Enos Baxic Oumoa, the founder of this orphanage has said to the children: “See? You are cared for. God has no orphans… Only children, who must discover their talents and make a difference in this world.”

Here’s your chance to partner with the Lord in parenting these children. If you can aid in some way—even if it’s just passing along the information to someone who can make a kit or two (or three or ten)—please do it.

Kits should be sent to:

Celeste Mergens
810 H Street Road
Lynden, WA 98264.

You can email her with questions at

Remember, kits have to be there by October 20!

Carpe that diem! Let’s make it so Celeste has to pay for an extra suitcase to take this all.

I’ll report back on the response and include a picture of Celeste handing out the kits.

Here’s information on making the sanitary pads:

1) Lay out one yard of polyester blend fabric right side down - to act as an outside semi-moisture barrier that breathes. It is nice for this to be colorful patterned fabrics, they hide stains and are cheerful for the girls… but anything will be welcome!

2) Add 3/5+/- (depending on the thickness of the fabric you are using) one yard layers of absorbent cotton or flannel cloth. Note: polyester blends will not work here. Cyndi at has generously offered to facilitate wholesale 100% cotton birdseye or flannel cloth for Project Thrive period pad participants at a great rate. If you wish to purchase cloth through her, contact her via her website, or here is a direct link she has given:

3) Pin fabric layers together.

4) Sew or surge one selvage fabric edge, this will serve as the first edge and hold the layers in place.

5) Cut 9” from the seam to create a 9” strip, Repeat until you have multiple 9” strips, each with one sewn edge.

6) Cut the sewn/surged 9” strips every 2 ¾” to create 9” x 2 ¾” pads. Snip a slight curve at each corner to soften the points.

7) Complete the sewing/surging of the edges of each pad. If using a sewing machine, it is recommended to then zigzag to finish.

8) This should make approximately 36+ pads total per stacked yard.

Return to the Neighborhood

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