Out of the Box prize – second place !

Second Prize Out of the box

FOR RELEASE February 15, 2011

KU center names winners of global community development competition

Contact: Stephen Fawcett, Ph.D., director (sfawcett@ku.edu) or Christina Holt, associate director (cholt@ku.edu), KU Work Group for Community Health and Development, (785) 864-0533

Recognizing grass-roots efforts to improve the lives of impoverished, marginalized populations around the globe was the goal of the first Out of the Box competition organized by the University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development.

Selected by an international panel of judges and then by public voting, the grand prize and second prize- winning projects are both located in Kenya in communities ravaged by civil unrest and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Fountain of Hope Youth Initiative was awarded the $2000 second prize for their “Sanitary Towels Project to Girls Orphaned by AIDS/Girls in Extreme Poverty & Education Support to Children Infected/Affected by HIV/AIDS Initiative.”   In addition to the award of $2000, Fountain of Hope will also receive a Community Tool Box Workstation.  WorkStations are customized online platforms to support the work of community-based initiatives by providing quick access to the latest announcements, online tools, shared documents, success stories, discussion forums, and blogs, enabling groups to more effectively engage in their collaborative work.

Fountain of Hope Youth Initiative is a community -based social support organization with the belief that “Education is the Key.”  Their vision is to see poor children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS, get quality education and equal opportunity to compete academically and in extracurriculars with other children. In 2007, the organization began to supply girls with sanitary pads in Kiambu, Kenya. Community workers discovered that the lack of sanitary pads was often the reason that girls from poor homes were struggling academically or even dropping out of school. The girls were often embarrassed and even ridiculed because of staining their uniforms during menstruation.   In communities where many families barely have enough income to provide food for their families, supplies such as sanitary towels are often unaffordable, so  Fountain of Hope organized donations of sanitary pads from community shops and supermarkets starting by asking for just a single packet of sanitary pads, according to James N. Waruiru, Fountain of Hope’s Project Coordinator. The initiative now supports more than 250 young women.

As a result, these girls no longer have to miss school simply because they are menstruating, and they are able to recover their self-esteem and devote their energy to schoolwork.   Their work has had an impact in the improvement of academic performance of the beneficiaries, and has brought more attention to this issue.  In fact, the Ministry of Education in Kenya is now realizing that this is a major obstacle for girls attending school, which has long been overlooked. As a result, the Ministry is considering petitioning the government for budgeting for sanitary towels and support to initiatives like the Fountain of Hope Youth Initiative.  More information on the Fountain of Hope Youth Initiative and their projects can be found at: http://fohlc.org/.

You can view a video the Fountain of Hope Youth Initiative made to describe their efforts.

More than 300 projects in 42 countries – from Argentina to Zimbabwe – applied for the prizes that recognize outstanding community innovation efforts that stress low-cost, small-scale, non-technical solutions to local problems.

According to Stephen B. Fawcett, director of the Work Group for Community Health and Development that sponsors the Community Tool Box, the sheer number of projects submitted to the contest testifies to how much community innovation is underway in the far corners of the world. “The power of communities to take action is a wonderful thing to behold. The competition made it possible for people around the world to share what works and to inspire others to take action.”

For more details, and to view stories of others who are trail-blazing to improve life for people in their communities, such as the grand prize winner Uhuru Child’s project to create a sustainable resettlement village for 900 internally displaced persons in Kenya, we welcome you to visit the new Community Innovators’ page of the Community Tool Box. We hope that you will check back often, as we will be featuring additional stories of inspiration and change throughout the year.

The Work Group for Community Health and Development is one of the 14 centers of the Life Span Institute at the University of Kansas.

Categories Press | Tags: , | Posted on February 18, 2011

1 Comment

  1. by Tracey Crofts

    On June 1, 2011

    Congratulations on your achievement! It is encouraging to hear of initiatives helping the poor and vulnerable.

    I would like to learn more about why FOHYI is purchasing disposable sanitary pads for schoolgirls though. Would it not be better to teach the girls or women to make their own, or buy reusable pads from other East African producers (e.g. Afripads) that work out to be a cheaper and more environmentally friendly in the long-term? If you are set on providing disposable pads please can you assure potential supporters that you have considered appropriate disposable of the pads you are providing? Otherwise I am concerned that a quick-fix hygiene solution today may be the cause of another hygiene problem tomorrow.

    All the best with your work.

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