Lack of access to feminine sanitary products could have a huge impact on the education of a South African school girl, and UT’s Fearless Leadership Institute is helping to break this educational barrier through a donation drive.
The drive began Oct. 1 and concludes today. The drive was inspired after five of the Institute’s members studied abroad in South Africa summer, including co-director Thaïs Moore.
“So many young girls in Cape Town are dropping out of school, because they can’t afford sanitary products and it broke my heart,” Moore said. “Our drive started off slow, but last week our donation bin was full.”
Moore takes part in the Cape Town study abroad program every other year. This summer, Moore said she grew close with a woman who worked at a battered women’s shelter and wanted to help whenever she reached out.
“We haven’t received as many [donations] as we’d like, but even if it can keep just two girls in school for the rest of the year, that would be great,” Moore said. “Our main objective is to love on young women. You can accomplish anything with love.”
Business sophomore Dayjah Harris, an Institute member of two years, traveled outside the country for the first time when she studied abroad and said the experience changed
“Being in South Africa allowed me to open my mind,” Harris said. “Being in America, we just focus on issues that we have here. Being in Cape Town and seeing issues that are faced of people in different countries, it just opened my mind up.”
Harris spent a lot of time visiting schools and helping at a battered women and children’s shelter.
“The girls in school out there, when they have their cycles, they don’t get any type of sanitary products, such as pads and tampons, so they can’t go to school,” Harris said, “This causes a lot of the young girls to drop out, leading to a lot of crimes and violence against them because they’re often unsupervised. This drive is to try to stop that problem from happening at such a high rate, to allow for these girls to get their education.”
Radio-television-film sophomore Destiny Goss said her experience abroad made her realize she had a passion for helping women and children who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and she hopes to create her own nonprofit mentoring program.
“The experience was life-changing,” Goss said. “It made me appreciate the things I have more than I’ve ever done … FLI is amazing. It is an organization to help young women who need growth. Every woman of color should join. It’s very empowering.”
Donations, such as tampons, pads, sanitary napkins and similar products, can be taken through 5 p.m. today to the Main Building Room 22 or SSB 4.400.