In underdeveloped countries women and girls of menstruating age usually spend "that time of the month" in seclusion. Without adequate feminine disposable products the girls often miss so much school that they are unable to graduate. Older women miss work, causing many to lose their jobs.
Project Patricia was started to help provide for these feminine needs as well as spread a Christian message to women and girls in Africa and other needy countries.
Project Patricia was the idea of Andrea (Wylie) Jones of Parkville, near Kansas City. It is an outreach ministry project of the Master's Community Church of Kansas City, Kansas.
Andrea is the daughter of 1972 Macon High School graduate Glenda (Shearer) Wylie of Parkville.
"In 2008, Andrea heard about a similar project through another group," said Glenda.
Andrea found that the other organization did not want to attach a Christian message with the washable, reusable feminine pads that they were distributing.
"Andrea decided we should find our own way of doing it," said Glenda.
Each kit includes three washable cloth pads with waterproof backings, a holder with snaps and a waterproof carrying bag. A bookmark in an African or English dialect is included with each kit. The kits are distributed by missionaries, opening a door for them to share the Gospel.
"When we first started the project the kits contained five pads," said Glenda. "But we found such a need that the recipients were often sharing them, so we cut back to three per kit so more people could be helped."
Since 2008, it is estimated that more than 45,000 pads filling 6,500 kits have been distributed. Through donations, the group also tries to give a pair of underwear to each recipient.
"When I heard stories about the reception from the women that received these supplies it made me cry," said Glenda. "We hear some very touching stories."
Though spearheaded through the Master's Community Church, Project Patricia is supported by outside donations, individual workers and many sewing days hosted by other churches and organizations.
The group recycles donated used towels and sheets that are in good condition. Donated remnants of cotton or flannel fabric are used to make the holders for the pads. The waterproof fabric for the backing is purchased through monetary donations.
Andrea's grandmother, Fay Shearer of Macon has assisted with the project since the beginning. Fay currently takes the hems and elastic off donated sheets and prepares them for cutting. She also tucks in the remnant threads on the holders after the edges have been finished on the sewing machine to prevent fraying.
"I've done about everything except sew," said Fay.
Fay's daughter Paula Fessler from Fulton also helps out by cutting towels. "It's kind of a family thing for us," quips Fay.
Page 2 of 2 - Last Saturday, a sewing day was held at the United Methodist Church in Macon as part of a Serving Saturday event.
Glenda and Fay were joined by Angie Easley of LaPlata, Janet Eaton of Macon, Sue Wynne of Bevier, Dr. Julie Burdin of Macon and others who worked on assembling and sewing. Another sewing day is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26 at the United Methodist Church in Brunswick.
DID YOU KNOW?
•Tax-deductible donations for Project Patricia may be sent to The Master's Community Church, 2548 S. 42nd Street, Kansas City, KS 66108.
•For more information you may e-mail: ProjectPatricia@yahoo.com
•Since 2008 Project Patricia has distributed more than 6,500 feminine supply kits in underdeveloped countries.
•Most kits have been distributed in Africa, but some other locations have included: Haiti, Thailand, India and El Salvador.