So, my Lovelies, I think this is where I start by saying, “Thank you for your patience,” rather than, “Sorry I’m so rubbish,” then you’re much more receptive and less likely to say, “Here she goes again…”!
So, thank you for your patience.
Since I last wrote, the world got busy – or busier – and although I’ve reduced my paid working hours by half since September, I seem to have no extra time – but that’s life; if it’s a handbag I’ll fill it, with a bit extra thrown in, if it’s money, I’ll spend it and just a little over, and if it’s time, I’ll always be busy, even though there’s still a long to-do list waiting to become a ta-da! list!
Yesterday was the one hundredth anniversary of Armistice Day and a moving one at that – it took me back to this time last year when I sat, writing on here, from Manchester Piccadilly, as time seemed to stand still. I asked then, will we ever learn? And that was pretty much the message I heard preached yesterday – although not will we ever, but rather, we must learn!
So what have I learned in the last year?
Since starting this blog, I’ve learned that it’s OK not to have the answers, and it’s OK not to be OK. Life is hard. For pretty much everyone, even though what’s tough for me, may be very different to what’s tough for someone else. Also, it’s OK to really shout at God, stamp your feet and scream, “It’s not fair!” – He’s big enough to take it.
I’ve learned how surprisingly easy it can be to get people talking about sanitary towels! And believe me, for the last year, I have talked about them A LOT!
I’ve learned (or rather re-learned, re-practised, re-membered) to step out in faith. A year ago, I intimated to my boss that I was ready to move on, I tried to work out where to and without a real plan, trusted God. As it happened we came to a compromise of reducing hours to allow me time and security to explore. Little did I know at that point that my beloved Deacon would be having major surgery at the start of September and be recuperating for three months! I’m so thankful for the provision.
I’ve learned that my children will get through the tough times too; with a few nudges, lots of patience and a huge amount of love and trust. They’re turning out to be quite decent human beings despite having us as parents!
I’ve learned that you can bring together a team of nine almost-strangers, fly them out to Uganda and deliver top quality educational training, even when you think no-one is going to turn up!
Our Doubleme.org Summer Conference took the fruit of Aunty Flo’s Easter workshop – i.e. lots and lots of washable, re-usable sanitary towels – along with a whole load of pattern ideas, knitted and crocheted pouches kindly donated – and introduced the senior school leaders who attended to the concept of teaching their girls (and women on their staff!) about the benefits of washable products.
Over two two-day conferences, approximately sixty schools were represented. We gave each school a pack containing sample pads, suggested patterns and pouches for discreet carrying and encouraged them to explore further – each of them must know someone local who sews; be it a parent, a community member or even someone in their own families. We spoke openly to the men, conscious of their own wives’ and daughters’ needs. And they were inspired!
So, where do we go from here?
Well, in terms of Uganda, my flights are booked for a return trip in February, hopefully to catch up with some of the schools and see how they have progressed. I’m hoping to find that they looked, explored, and felt empowered to make projects of their own.
But here’s another thing I learned this summer: just before I left for the conferences, I attended a Child Health Conference in the area I work. There in the “goody” bag along with the customary post-its and pen – who doesn’t love a post-it! – was a survey, aiming to determine the impact of period poverty on girls’ school attendance in our own local authority. Not in a third world, developing country, but here, in the UK. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there is a place for education, money management and so on and yes, they might miss school because they can’t buy pads, but they still have an iphone. I get it. Therefore, all the more reason to educate and share what we know.
So here is where Aunty Flo is planning to step in. We’re reaching out to the local authority, to the local food bank and to the local community. We are making plans, designing workshops for schools and spreading the word. We’re working our way through steadily and making contacts. Hopefully, in the new year there will be dates and details of community sewing workshops.
When I first started this project, a number of you were interested in getting involved – now is your chance! Share the love and spread the word – go back to my earlier posts and have a think about where you can share the message of re-purposing fabrics. If you are local to either Faversham or Sheffield, come and join a sewing group. If you know of any accessible research which will help put our pitch together for schools – statistics etc – we’d love to hear about it.
One final thing I’ve learned – and I’m paraphrasing… I’m told that research shows that we are most content when we have what we need for survival (basic needs met – not all the extra stuff that clogs life up…) and we are working in the support of others – maybe that’s why I breathe a sigh of relief whenever I step off a plane in Uganda…what about you?
Let’s talk soon xxx
P.S. – I also learned that when you get stranded in Uganda because your passport is nicked, your flight is booked for Sunday and you can’t get emergency travel documents till Monday, it’s far less stressful when you’re surrounded by smiles like these!