Hiram College

Written by Jory Gomes ’18

“How do health care and conservation interact? For example, how does one’s environment impact their access to adequate health care? How do human and animal interactions impact the quality of life?” These are the questions that professors Amber Chenoweth, Ph.D and Emily McClung, Ph.D are posing to their class “Comparative Issues in Zambia.” This study abroad course to Zambia aims to look at how issues affecting health and quality of life differ by cultural context. For example, while in the United States it may be commonplace for a teenage girl to miss school because of the flu, the biological reality of menstruation is the leading reason girls in Zambia miss school.

Junior Reeve Bowling ‘19, who will be going on the Zambia trip this fall 3-week, explained that “in Zambia, women and girls aren’t allowed to go to school when they’re menstruating.” He pointed out that while factors like culture and access to health care help explain this disparity in education—is one of, if not the, biggest factor(s) in improving girls access to education in Zambia. He went further to say that “this is clearly devastating to their education and emotional health! So we’ve partnered up with Days4Girls, a nonprofit that will provide a $10 kit that consists of private, functional, aesthetically pleasing, reusable cotton briefs and pads.”

On the partnership with Days4Girls, Dr. Amber Chenoweth, associate Professor and Chair of Psychology said “in our past study abroad trips to Zambia we have taken donated items, among these being sanitary items (pads, tampons). What we didn’t realize then was that these only offered a temporary solution… a girl could go to school for maybe 3 months with these supplies, but ultimately this wasn’t a sustainable option. With Days4Girls, a girl would be able to use the reusable sanitary napkin solution for up to three years. That’s three years of more access to education and opportunities than she might have had otherwise!” Dr. Chenoweth and Dr. McClung agree that “the Days4Girls mission fits perfectly, and will allow for our students to engage in service learning in Zambia, teaching the girls how to use the products, rather than just giving a temporary donation.” Through this partnership, Hiram will be able to continue its legacy of service learning by, ultimately, improving access to education for as many girls in Zambia as possible.

The cost of one Days4Girls kit is $10, and Dr. Chenoweth’s and Dr. McClung’s class are aiming to take 100 kits with them to Zambia. This means that their goal is $1,000. While this number might seem huge, it is just 100 donations of $10 or 200 donations of $5, so the class is trying to surpass their fundraising goal and take as many kits with them as possible.

In the words of Rachel from Nairobi, Kenya, three years after receiving her Days4Girls kit, “You feel free. You can go anywhere you want. You are comfortable…you can jump, run, do whatever you want to do.” To hear more about Days4Girls and hear other girls’ stories, go to www.daysforgirls.com. To help girls in Zambia feel the same freedom, please direct all donations to the Venmo or CashApp accounts associated with the fundraiser (Venmo: HIRAM-DAYS-4-GIRLS and CashApp: $HIRAMDAYS4GIRLS). If you have any questions about how to donate, or want to learn more about the class, email either Dr. Chenoweth at chenowetham@hiram.edu or Dr. McClung at mcclungel@hiram.edu.