“The girls in the village don’t normally continue education past age 12 because of this problem.”
Name: Kelsey Glancy
Hometown: West Chester, PA
Education: Villanova University
Passions and Interests: Country music, animal rights and surfing
Transformational Experience: Ghana: Building Healthy Villages™
Making an Impact: Started G.I.R.L. drive to provide pads and underwear to girls and women in rural Ghana
One of the truths few people like to admit when traveling to the developing world is that basics we consider ordinary and essential are far from that in places where even running water is rare. While participating on the Ghana: Building Healthy Villages™ program with Global Leadership Adventures, Kelsey Glancy got a firsthand look at the effects of not having access to the sanitary items people back home are used to having within arm’s reach.
After volunteering on a two-week project building a compost toilet from start to finish that would benefit local families in Dzita, Ghana, Kelsey saw how access to a private place to use the bathroom can be so profoundly life-changing for a person. These toilets reduce the risk of illness and diarrhea, and provide privacy for women and girls that is sorely lacking. It’s this last element that really resonated with her.
It opened my eyes to the struggles girls face due to their lack of sanitary items, and it gave me a desire to help them.”
During her time in Ghana, Kelsey made friends among the locals in the community. She wanted to give back to those who had given her a new outlook on the world – in particular, an 8 year-old girl named Abby. Kelsey says Abby was “energetic, sassy and always happy.” Despite the fact that Abby was not fluent in English, they grew close during Kelsey’s time abroad.
What she learned during that time was that girls in these communities have a tough time completing an education. By the time they reach the age of menstruation, they do not have pads, underwear or other sanitary feminine products that make staying in the classroom comfortable and safe for learning. So they miss school during their periods. And then they fall behind, month after month. And once they miss too much time at school, they fall so far behind that many of these young women simply drop out.
Often, women who drop out marry someone 2-3x their age, have children very young, and end up mired in poverty.
After learning all of these terrible facts, I realized that this would all one day happen to Abby; I knew I had to do something to prevent it, and that is what influenced me to start a Feminine Products Drive at my school and three other schools in my area. The “Ghana Improving Rights for Learning” or G.I.R.L.”
The drive was a huge success, providing 28 large boxes filled with sanitary pads and underwear to girls in in the Volta region of Ghana, where Abby lives. Kelsey partnered with Village Exchange Ghana, an NGO, to hand out the materials. Staff at the NGO will provide girls in the community with an education program on the use and importance of the pads, as well as answer feminine health questions.
Kelsey found the letter she received from her partner organization in Ghana to reflect what’s at the heart of her accomplishments, and her continued drive to give back:
The most rewarding part of volunteering for me is the after-effect, or the person’s response. The NGO in Ghana (Village Exchange Ghana) that I partnered with for the G.I.R.L. drive, sent me in an email after they received the products. It read: “The girls will be very happy. I will also like you to give us a brief background about yourself and all those who supported in getting the sanitary materials to Ghana. I will tell them this on the days we carry out the demonstration and distribution of the sanitary materials. This is just to let them know something about the one who sent the sanitary materials to them. I think this will motivate and encourage them, and will make them very happy that someone far away somewhere cares about them.” The last line is what truly made me smile – that the girls are so grateful that someone far away thought about them and wanted to help them. I find it amazing how one person can lift up another person so high, by sometimes even the smallest acts.”
You can check out more about G.I.R.L. on its Facebook page.
Kelsey is currently attending Villanova University. She’s been accepted to the College of Nursing.
Program Kelsey attended:
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