Diana Esho, a member of the Rotary Club of Leicester, spoke to Novus Rotary (of which her husband Mark is a member) about the Your Smalls Appeal, which she set up five years ago next month.
The charity’s aim is to improve the lives of women ― particularly young women ― in Africa by providing them with sanitary products and underwear. Many girls and women who cannot afford underclothes and sanitary products feel unable to attend school every school day of every month and to play a full part in the life of their family and community.
It started by asking people in the UK and other developed parts of the world to donate clothes and re-usable sanitary products. It has shipped to The Gambia, West Africa, thousands of items. Diana wanted to encourage self-sufficiency, so the charity is now supporting businesses in The Gambia which make re-usable sanitary packs so women and girls can walk to school and work feeling safe, secure and with dignity.
The charity goes even further than though. The Your Smalls Appeal also supports a growing number of children who have no access to education by paying their tuition, uniform and books.
Novus member Jim Matthews, who has taken suitcases of bras to Wullingkamma Nursery School and Lower Basic in one of the communities supported by Diana’s project on some of his annual holidays in The Gambia, stressed that it was vital for The Gambia to support women.
He recalled having visited a group of about 20 women working in the fields. As noon approached, and the temperatures soared, the women prepared to walk the three miles back to their homes. Naively, he asked if they had finished for the day. “Oh no,” they replied, adding that they had to go home to cook lunch for their husbands (most of whom had no work) before walking back in the afternoon for another four-hour shift cultivating vegetables.
Diana said that the charity had snowballed, with donations of products and cash coming from all over the world. She and her husband run an internet business (which generously hosts this website) and by optimising search engine terms manages to outperform some other similar, but much bigger, charities.
Your Smalls Appeal is working with four schools in The Gambia and three in Sierra Leone, also in West Africa. Sometimes they have been able to support charities in Leicester, particularly those working with homeless women who have problems similar to those poor women of West Africa.
But in The Gambia and Sierra Leone, women might use all sorts of unhygienic clothes and sanitary products often made worse by the fact that the women will often have been subjected to the horrific practice of FGM ― Female Genital Mutilation ― which can leave them susceptible to infections which result in high levels of post-natal deaths
After Diana’s talk, members had a go at identifying 25 Christmas films (or films shown on TV at this time of the year). Please have a go, just for fun.
If you want the answers, please hit the Contact Us button at the top of each of the pages on this website.
This was the club’s last weekly meeting of 2020, a year we all want to forget.
President Sarita Shah and all members of the Rotary Club of Leicester Novus wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a 2021 of good health, joy and peace.
Last edited: 21:30 on Thursday, 17.12.2020