Celebrate World OT Day
In honor of World Occupational Therapy Day, a day focused on heightening the visibility of the profession’s development work, ASHT member and International Committee volunteer Michele Auch shares her experience combining international health issues with her passion for occupational therapy.
I have been a volunteer for all of my adult life. I have volunteered with so many different organizations that I have forgotten how many. Some were domestic, some international. After almost 30 years of volunteering, I looked back and wondered how I could merge my volunteer work with my career as an OT. As it happens in life, once I began looking for an answer to this question, an answer came along through the organization Days For Girls International. Days for Girls and occupational therapy share many of the same goals: ADL management, i8ndependence and goal setting for life goals, such as education, work and family planning.
The organization launched in 2008 in response to the issue of many women around the globe lacking access to feminine hygiene products. Not just your favorite brand of tampon, but any hygiene product at all. This is a real problem for girls in developing countries. When girls lack access to hygiene products, they stay home from school. They may lose up to 45 days of school per year. This puts them at a significant disadvantage to their male counterparts. Days for Girls wishes to give these days back to schoolgirls.
The organization created a product that is washable, reusable, hygienic and pretty, and it can be used for up to three years if properly cared for. As hygiene kits are distributed, education about girls’ changing bodies, monthly cycle, pregnancy prevention and family planning, self care and the need to stay in school is provided. Additionally, women are sought after for training in how to make these kits locally. If a woman is interested in becoming a tailor, she can go to school for a two-week training and learn to make and sell kits, thereby creating a business for themselves.
I love being a volunteer for Days for Girls because it merges my career as an OT to my interest in women’s issues, poverty alleviation and international work. Please check out this fabulous organization at www.DaysforGirls.org.