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Grace Ochieng' '12, a native of Kenya, has been awarded one of the "100 Projects for Peace" grants for 2009, in the third year of the program. With the grant, she plans to establish a micro-financed sewing project to produce innovative, reusable, washable and environmentally friendly menstrual sanitary pads in the rural village of Lwala, Kenya.

Davis Projects for Peace is an invitation to undergraduates at the American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer. The projects judged to be the most promising and do-able are funded at $10,000 each. The objective is to encourage and support today's motivated youth to create and try out their own ideas for building peace. The Davis Projects for Peace is made possible by Kathryn Wasserman Davis, an accomplished internationalist and philanthropist. Upon the occasion of her 100th birthday in February of 2007, Mrs. Davis, mother of Shelby M.C. Davis who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program, chose to celebrate by committing $1 million for one hundred Projects for Peace. Because of the many marvelous achievements made by students in the summers of 2007 and 2008, Mrs. Davis is continuing the Davis Projects for Peace for a third year this year.

Through the project, a People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) support group in Lwala, where Ochieng' is from, will be trained in business management and machine-sewing skills. For one year, while a market for the products is developed, Ochieng' will use grant funding to purchase the pads and distribute them to schools and health facilities. After that, the health facilities, schools, women and girls in the village will be encouraged to buy the pads directly from the women who make them. Carrying cases containing pads will be distributed to menstruating girls at local primary and secondary schools during the first year, and girls will be educated about menstrual hygiene and puberty. Local production of cloth pads will provide a source of income for women and their families. In addition, the project will improve school attendance among menstruating girls in local schools, as Ochieng' noted in her successful application for the award, "In the developing world, the lack of sanitary supplies contributes to high rates of school absences and dropouts among girls."

Four St. Lawrence students were awarded grants through the program in its initial year.

Two more received the awards in 2008.

More information: Davis Projects for Peace Web site

Posted: March 26, 2009

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