Allison Fitzgerald from St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Kalida, is shown with a group of school children wearing dresses last year made by Jan Gasser, Ottoville, for the mission trip to Tanzania last June. (Photo submitted)
Allison Fitzgerald from St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Kalida, is shown with a group of school children wearing dresses last year made by Jan Gasser, Ottoville, for the mission trip to Tanzania last June. (Photo submitted)

KALIDA — When several members of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Kalida, traveled to Tanzania in June 2013, they saw many needs including those of girls attending the Aani Girls Secondary School in Manyoni.

Now volunteers at the church meet monthly to sew and help meet those needs.

The women are doing sewing for “Days for Girls” making feminine hygiene kits that help the girls meet their sanitary requirements.

“In the past girls had to miss school and work monthly because they had nothing for this time of month,” said Susan White who was overseeing the volunteer work last Saturday. She said the women have been meeting since November to sew the kits.

“We’ve had a really good response to this work,” White said. “We’ve had a lot of material donated for the kits and have many women who bring their own sewing machines each month to do the sewing.”

The women have completed 315 kits so far. The feminine hygiene kits made by the women are washable and usable for up to three years. White said they have a goal of making at least 400 kits.

“We are hoping other churches may take an interest and start making kits,” White said. She said many of the women work on the kits at home also.

The women also have made many dresses for Africa. This is part of the Dresses for Africa organization, which makes simple dresses and distributes them to orphanages, churches and schools in Africa.

White said Janice Gasser from Fort Jennings, started the women with the Dresses for Africa program. She had made several dresses before the mission group of St. Michael’s went to Tanzania last year. The volunteers on the mission trip were able to personally deliver these dresses to girls in Africa during their mission trip.

Last year Gasser, from St. Isidore’s parish in Ottoville, spoke to the Kalida about the Dresses for Africa program. Women at the Ottoville parish were already making dresses.

Connie Cleemput from the Kalida parish also spoke at that same meeting about the Days for Girls program.

“We had 40 women at that meeting and the women in our church have embraced both programs,” said Cleemput who oversees the monthly sewing meetings.

“They usually suggest using pillow cases to make the dresses,” said White, “But the women here like to sew the dresses with the donated material.” She said the women take pride in adding personal touches to each dress, so no two dresses are alike.

A young visitor to Kalida, Eva Dulle, from Columbus, was taking part in the sewing last Saturday.

“I sew a lot at home,” she said as she carefully guided the material through her sewing machine. Dulle said it felt good to be doing something for the girls in Africa. She said she was about to turn nine-years-old. Eva and her mother, were visiting Eva’s aunt in Kalida.