The School Girl Project

Close your eyes and imagine 14 year old Lilly in Africa. She’s finally gotten a chance to get back into school and even though she’s a year behind, she is thrilled.

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So her teacher is surprised when she misses not one, but four days of school, the second month of school.

She falls further behind.

And it happens again the following month.

Nobody likes to talk about it.

But it’s a normal part of life for every young woman: menstruation.

Yeah. And many girls around the globe don’t have the extra money to buy products every month that would make it easier to stay in school.

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What is an inconvenience for most, is life-altering for others.

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“It is a normal part of life – but in many regions of the world it is a taboo subject. The silence around menstruation means girls in some countries stay away from school during their periods or even drop out of education. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the world, girls can miss out on up to five days of school per month or stop going to school entirely because of insufficient access to water and hygiene facilities, no separate toilets for girls and a lack of sanitary supplies.” source

My Kenyan friend Susan (and a Rehema House board member, employee of Compassion International), who led my first Compassion trip in Kenya in 2010, has a heart for these girls and their missed education. She and her sister have started an initiative to keep girls in school by supplying them with the basic need of sanitary pads.

And friends, we are going to help. We want to fill as many suitcases as we can with feminine hygiene products to send back to Kenya this month. Will you help?

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Sisters, mothers, daughters lets join together and meet the needs of countless girls in Kenya.

Sure, nobody like to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

Please send sanitary pads (all brand, sizes and types) to:

Mercy House

8000 Research Forest Dr. Set 115-110

Spring, TX 77382

Deadline: Sept 26, 2015

 

Updated to add: Yes, we understand there are cheaper, reusable options. But these take education and time and resources (like soap and water). We will be sending ideas, samples, etc to the women leading this group. Until then, we are collecting disposable options. Thank you.

What Social Media Is Offering Our Kids (And What To Do About It)

“Give me your phone,” I said as I held out my hand to one of my kids. “You’re not in trouble, but I think you need a break from social media for awhile.”

I was half expecting a war.

Instead, my child looked absolutely relieved and said, “You’re right. Thank you, Mom.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks that this was why my child was struggling with feelings of inadequacy. Because when kids are too plugged into other people’s worlds through social media, they have a more difficult time being thankful for their own.

Technology has been changing culture for years. A long look into the daily lives of our peers is always a click away. We scroll and sigh. We want things we didn’t even know we missed. And we miss things we really don’t even want.

Our culture loves social media, but social media doesn’t always “like” us back.


Social Media and Kids
For generations, kids have compared themselves to others and wanted to fit in with peers. I have several junior high memories that center around finding out on a Monday what I wasn’t invited to over the weekend and feeling left out always hurts.

Even though children today struggle with the same feelings, the world has changed since I was a kid. And social media is doing something to our kids that we didn’t have to face:

It’s offering them a live, all-access feed into the intimate and personal stories of their peers while it’s happening. Kids are invited to watch it unfold, but not always invited to participate. And worse, with likes and comments and hashtags, we’re given the power to rate and score other people’s lives.

And it’s changing how kids feel about themselves.

We decided a long time ago not to allow our children social media access until they became teenagers. It wasn’t a popular decision in our house (or with some of our adult friends). But I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve wished we waited longer.

But at the same time, sheltering our kids from the evil world isn’t a cure-all. “The problem for Christian parents isn’t in the desire to shelter children; it’s in the warped perspective that such sheltering can foster. We start thinking our kids are basically good and in need of moral direction, rather than recognizing our kids are basically bad and in need of heart transformation,” Trevin Wax said in this important Gospel Coalition article.

So, I’m not advocating we strip our kids of all social media access or ban it until college, I’m suggesting we first, understand how it’s affecting them and second, navigate it with them.

If I’m transparent with them (and you), I have to admit that sometimes when I’m scrolling through Facebook statuses or Instagram pictures, I feel jealous of what others have and discouraged about what I don’t have. When I realize what’s happening, I try to shut it down because within minutes of looking into other people’s lives, I feel worse about my own. And if I feel this way as a mature adult, it is multiplied for my children.

The average teen logs into social media at least 10 times a day and if we’re going to let them, we need to equip them. Everyone has different house rules. In our house, we monitor and limit technology and Internet usage, we filter and reserve the right to read texts, turn off data, hand in phones, and remind our kids that it’s a privilege that can be taken away. (And yes, my kids sometimes resist and rebel against these rules (and I’m not just saying that to make you feel better).

Social Media and Kids

Here are a few conversations that might be a good place to start:

  1. Talk with your kids about the term “friend.” Social media has us friending people we’ve never met. That’s not to say they won’t become a friend, but defining what true friendship is will help our kids realize what it’s not.
  2. Discuss what it means to “like” something and how it feels to be “liked” on social media. It’s a temporary high that can have a long-lasting impact on the way we feel about ourselves.
  3. Ask your kids: How do you respond when someone is bullied online?
  4. Discuss what kind of things should be said in person and not online or not at all? (Like confrontations and negative opinions).
  5. Talk to your children about when they might feel left out (because of what they’ve seen online). Suggest taking a break and spending time with people in person.
  6. Discuss oversharing.

So, yes, please let’s limit and monitor social media, but also let’s talk to our kids about it. They might resist, okay, they probably will resist, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

It’s irresponsible to give our kids access to a virtual world where “friends” have more say than we do. But that’s exactly what will happen if we choose to say nothing at all.