Lynda Guthrie proudly announced that the first 50 menstrual hygiene kits shipped in early June.  The kits were headed to Chiapas Mexico where they will be distributed to young girls and women in the region.  
The objective of this project is to make it possible for young girls to stay in school, avoid pregnancy, and gain greater potential for economic gain through menstrual health and sexual education training provided with the menstrual hygiene kits. 
Congratulations to our joint Nevada City and 49er Rotary project team. We have completed terms of the Grant and submitted the Grant report to District. To review the report summary and photos ...



1. Describe the project.

The Project

In partnership with the 49er Breakfast Club of Nevada City and in cooperation with the Club Rotario Oriente de Tuxtla, Chiapas, Mexico, the Nevada City Rotary Club sponsored a Sewing Circle created for the purpose of sewing Menstrual Hygiene Kits for young marginalized girls in the southern Mexican State of Chiapas bordering Guatemala. The Sewing Circle initially attracted nineteen women including Rotarians and many friends of Rotarians with thirteen members becoming the core group of serious participants. The core group is committed to continuing the project during the coming 2023-24 year and beyond.
The Sewing Circle concept was based on a similar Menstrual Hygiene Project in Bishop, CA guided by Ramona Delmas of the Bishop Sunrise Rotary Club. Nevada City Rotarians Lynda Guthrie and Carolyn Feuille met with the Bishop group in October 2021 and were provided a quick overview of the key elements involved in making the kits, including sewing instruction, as well as the equipment and supplies required. Their excellent guidance provided the foundation for the creation of our District Grant and the implementation of the Menstrual Hygiene Kit project.

Phase I: September – December 2022

Grant funding was approved in mid-September. Beginning in October, Lynda began the process of reaching out to Rotarian women and their friends to generate interest in the Menstrual Hygiene Kit Sewing Circle and gathering the materials required to start making the Kits. In addition, it became clear that there was much to learn in terms of actually making the Menstrual Pads, Shields and Pouches that comprise the Kit.
Understanding this need, Lynda took on the responsibility of organizing all aspects of the project.
By early December, a core group of interested Rotarians and friends met to plan when they would regularly meet, what skills they could bring to the group and what equipment they could contribute. At this time, we were fortunate to discover that two of the interested individuals had Sergers; one offered to donate their older model Serger and the other offered to loan us her Serger.
Sergers are an essential requirement for making the Pads.
It was now understood that there were multiple steps that required precise and often skilled attention such as cutting flannel fabric for pads, sewing the pads with both a regular sewing machine and a Serger, cutting P.U.L. waterproof fabric and cotton fabric for both the Shields and the Pouches, and sewing the pouches and very complex shields. Fortunately, there are many relatively simple tasks such as pre-washing and ironing all of the fabric before cutting or sewing, pinning fabric pieces, compiling the multiple pieces of fabric included in the shield, installing snaps, compiling the completed kits.

Phase II

In January, the core group began meeting on the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Wolf Creek Lodge Co-Housing community in Grass Valley where Lynda is a resident. By meeting there, all equipment (the two donated and loaned Serger Sewing Machines, the used Serger purchased from Rotarian, Mary Lynn Holliday and the purchased Accuquilt Cutting Machine and large quantities of fabric and supplies can be kept in one place and under the supervision of a Nevada City Rotarian.
In February, Deborah Wilder, Nevada City 49er Rotarian, who is actively involved with a similar group at the Grass Valley Mormon Church, hosted a 5- Hr training on cutting, compiling and sewing the shields. This was a valuable experience and provided an opportunity for our Sewing Circle to learn the intricate techniques required for making the shields.

Phase III

By March, at least eight of the Sewing Circle members were meeting regularly on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month and members had identified the tasks they preferred and perfected the skills required to carry out those tasks. Production in general, which had been slow up to now, began to speed up, although it became apparent that only a limited number of Kits could be completed prior to the end of the Grant cycle. However, with a final surge enhanced by individual members taking work home between meetings, and a decision to meet every week until completed, fifty Kits were completed and shipped to El Paso, Texas. Fortunately, Ramona Delmas, has established a relationship with an individual in El Paso who collects the packages and
passes them on to Rotarians from Juarez, Mexico who transports them across the border and then ships them to Chiapas, Mexico.

Phase IV

The Sewing Circle members have committed to continue producing Kits with the remaining fabric purchased with the District Grant funds. Based on their recommendations, supplies and equipment have been purchased to meet the needs of the tasks they are performing. While taking off the month of June, the members will meet in late June for a lunch meeting (a “thank you” provided by Lynda) to discuss plans for the coming year. In the meantime, Lynda will produce a Menstrual Hygiene Kit Instruction Manual, using the guidelines she established during the learning stage of the project. This Manual will help current and new members with all of the steps required to make each of the items included in the Kit.
It is anticipated that the Sewing Circle will continue to meet at Wolf Creek Lodge on the first and third Wednesday and more members will help with other tasks at home. Lynda is recommending a goal of completing 250 Kits by the end of June 2024. If additional funds are required, the Nevada City Club has budgeted $750 for FY2023-24 in support of the project. Lynda Guthrie will continue to take the lead with the active support of the Nevada City Rotary members including Carolyn Feuille and Chris Newsome. They continue to be extremely enthusiastic and committed to keeping the project going for as long as possible.

2. How many people benefited from this project?

By the end of FY2023-24 it is anticipated that up to two hundred and fifty (250) young girls from Chiapas, Mexico will have received one of the packets produced by the Nevada city Rotary Sewing Circle. As of July 2023, Nevada City Rotary will fund any additional expenditures in 2023-24 and potentially in future years as well.

3. Who were the beneficiaries, how were they impacted by this project, and what humanitarian need was met?

The beneficiaries of this grant are young girls from marginalized communities in Chiapas, Mexico ranging in age between 10 and 16. Many of these girls face severe poverty and do not have menstrual hygiene products. In addition, we have been told that some of the
girls are living in foster care and have been removed from sexual human trafficking situations. As a result, most of these young girls remain in the cycle of “Period Poverty” with little opportunity for economic improvement.
By providing all girls with menstrual hygiene kits along with education in menstrual and reproductive health, they are given an opportunity to avoid “Period Poverty” by remaining in school once their menstrual cycles begin, avoiding marriage and pregnancy at an early age, gaining greater potential for economic gain, and helping the environment with reusable menstrual products. In the end they are empowered with knowledge about themselves and their environment.

4. How many Rotarians participated in this project?

Currently, the Sewing Circle is comprised of five Rotarians from the Nevada City Club and one from the Nevada City 49ers. Now that we are an established and experienced group, we intend to find ways to involve Rotarians from other Clubs by creating a Saturday or evening Sewing Circle in the future so working Rotarians can participate at least occasionally. It’s possible that these meetings might be at the Mormon Church which has a space much larger than that at Wolf Creek Lodge.
For more on our District grant project partnering with 49er Breakfast Rotary Clubs visit Menstrual Kits for Chiapas