The MoonCatcher Project Newsletter: Winter 2018

The MoonCatcher Project starts a new year with tremendous energy and ambition to help more and more girls stay in school by removing barriers related to menstruation.  We work in the world’s poorest communities to accomplish this by supplying washable, reusable menstrual pad kits (MoonCatcher Kits) made with less than a half-yard of fabric.  We also support girls by providing education in reproductive health and menstrual management.

We’re proud to report our progress in this newsletter. And we look forward to ongoing success with your support. We plan to produce and distribute another 5,000 MoonCatcher kits this year.

  MAKING MOONCATCHER KITS  – Members of the Woman With a Purpose Sewing Guild in Wakiso Uganda, sew pad kits. The WWP is the first MCP sewing guild in Africa.

MAKING MOONCATCHER KITS – Members of the Woman With a Purpose Sewing Guild in Wakiso Uganda, sew pad kits. The WWP is the first MCP sewing guild in Africa.

MCP Sewing Cooperatives in Africa Support Sustainability, Create Income for Women

The MoonCatcher Project seeks to build program sustainability in countries whose girls we serve. We source equipment and supplies locally wherever possible. Most important of all, we support women in sewing cooperatives to produce MoonCatcher kits and supplies.

Since 2016, we have established and supported seven sewing cooperatives and one soap-making cooperative, supporting 35 women located in:

Bugembe, Uganda

 Jinja, Uganda

Palissa, Uganda   

Wakiso, Uganda

Wakiso Soap-Making

Kimenyede Uganda

Chuntheche, Malawi

Kombewa, Kenya

The strategic plan set by our board calls for opening additional sewing cooperatives this year; we’ll update you on that progress.

 

 

  CONGRESS COMES TO A MOONBEE  – U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko displays a completed MoonCatcher Project pad kit, with MCP founder and executive director Ellie von Wellsheim. 

CONGRESS COMES TO A MOONBEE – U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko displays a completed MoonCatcher Project pad kit, with MCP founder and executive director Ellie von Wellsheim. 

MoonBee Update 

The MCP hosted four MoonBees in January and February of this year, organizing the energies and skills of more than 50 volunteers. 

On Martin Luther King Day in Saratoga Springs Library, over 50 volunteers filled the Dutcher Community Room at the public library; three local newspapers reported on the event.

Since MCP hosted a MoonBee at Union College in Schenectady, many students have continued to be part of the project by attending MoonBees elsewhere. In fall 2017, incoming Union freshman volunteered as part of their orientation, cutting Tyvek, preparing kits for shipping and developing a spreadsheet for merchandise sales.

After a very successful MoonBee at Albany’s Westminster Presbyterian Church on Jan. 27, many of the volunteers who’d sewn all morning then joined in a lively Zumba party!

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY 20) attended and spoke at our MoonBee at St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph Church in Rensselaer, New York. Congressman Tonko got right to work cutting out Tyvek for our waterproof pad carriers.  He also expressed support and encouragement for our work, highlighting the need to help women and girls around the world and to volunteer to create change in this fragile time in our history.

  TEACHING, LEARNING  – Ellie von Wellsheim instructs Gorette in sewing a MoonCatcher pad carrier at Woman With a Purpose Sewing Guild in Wakiso, Uganda.

TEACHING, LEARNING – Ellie von Wellsheim instructs Gorette in sewing a MoonCatcher pad carrier at Woman With a Purpose Sewing Guild in Wakiso, Uganda.

MCP Team Returns to Uganda and Malawi, Makes First Visit to Kenya

Ellie will visit Uganda and Kenya from February 23 to March 19, meeting with two MCP teams.

She will return to Africa April 7 to 22, working in Malawi.

The first phase of this visit, in Uganda and Kenya, will include shooting video for a documentary. Our video team comprises Ellie’s daughter and MCP board member Pisie Hochheim and Pisie’s partner Tony Oswald. Both are Brooklyn-based videographers and editors whose credits include documentary projects for HBO, Frontline, the Food Channel and Martha Stewart in addition to independent films. They will shoot visits to sewing guilds to update progress and fine-tune production, and to schools to record reproductive health and menstrual management education efforts. This first phase will also include work with focus groups to assess program results, plus research in Kampala on locally sourcing fabrics and other supplies.

Teams and operations will change on March 5. MCP board member emeritus Maureen Fernandez arrives to meet Ellie as Pisie and Tony return to Brooklyn with their video footage to begin editing. Maureen and Ellie will visit a refugee settlement camp in Kampala, Uganda at a stone quarry and its vocational “Quarry School” where Father Francis Ssengendo, a Catholic priest, is pastor. Maureen, Ellie and MCP Uganda Director Phoebe Nabwami will help set up a sewing room to produce pads, as part of Father Francis’s school.

In Kagoma Gate village outside Jinja, Uganda, the MCP team will visit a kitchen that Maureen has set up to feed school children breakfast and lunch. An experienced art teacher, Maureen will also direct an art project at the school; and they’ll show a movie. In their first movie showing there, “The Jungle Book,” the audio failed but the children loved it anyway: They’d never seen one before. In 2017 we showed “Queen of Katwe.”

Traveling into Kenya the MCP team will make its first visit to a newly opened sewing cooperative in Kombewa. Jackie Okoth opened the new cooperative last fall with on-site support and direction by Phoebe Nabwami. As they strive to do everywhere overseas, MCP team members will research the sourcing of equipment and materials locally, this time investigating availability and pricing in Nairobi.

In Chuntheche, Malawi, traveling MCP friends Kelly DeLaRocha and Lori Ludlow will join the MCP team to support and refine operations at the MCP sewing cooperative and expand the local sourcing of fabric. The team will also investigate locations and opportunities for additional sewing cooperatives and bring kits to additional schools.

Sewing cooperatives produce MoonCatcher kits, which MCP delivers to schools, along with reproductive health and menstrual management education.

As on all its international trips, MCP team members will procure beautiful, unusual and rare African crafts, bringing them back for sale at MoonBees and other events to raise funds and support The MoonCatcher Project operations.