My Sweet Sixty project is over – but the gift goes on

“It is more blessed to give than receive,” Jesus said. Two thousand years later, this follower can confirm it.

For my sixtieth birthday, I decided to give a gift of joy: sixty feminine hygiene kits for young women living in an underprivileged part of the world. But first, that meant sewing them. Knowing I’d need help, I invited others along. To my delight, people wanted a part in that giving-joy. (Thank you, if you’re one of them!) They shared time, skills, tools and funds. One lady donated sixty bars of soap.  A local organization contributed, among other things, two pairs of underwear per kit. A man from another province sent a generous cheque.

I dubbed it my Sweet  Sixty project, and working within the guidelines of the organization Days for Girls (, we completed those sixty kits within six months. Even my grandbeans helped. Women hauled their sewing machines to a church hall for sewing days. Other women took sewing home. (We also had a few ripping-out days to correct some of the sewing we’d done on the sewing days.) Each small brightly coloured cloth liner, shield or bag, thrilled me.

We assembled the finished kits in their drawstring bags (which would also serve as backpacks for the recipients), then stuffed them into a very large suitcase. In God’s perfect timing, my sweet friend, Rhonda Rowe, had planned a trip to Africa, and agreed to lug that huge case along with her. Several weeks later she distributed them to a classroom of girls in a poor village in Uganda. Unrealized by Rhonda, some of the kits “went missing” enroute, but when she arrived at the classroom, the suitcase held the perfect number for those precious young women.

Perhaps better than anyone, the girls in poverty-stricken Third World countries who receive these kits know their value. Reusable sanitary supplies for monthly feminine needs means they don’t have to miss two months of school each year, or drop out altogether. An education, in a poor country, makes the difference between poverty and climbing out of poverty. One girl, Rhonda said, danced with delight, gyrating and whooping as only Africans can, holding her bag over her head.

A week before my sixty-first birthday, I hosted a Sweet Sixty project wrap-up. As many women who could, came. I used my china teacups. The Preacher made angel food cake. I served it with raspberries and  ice cream brought by one of the women. In words and photos, Rhonda took us to Africa so we could see the end of the Sweet Sixty story.  The beginning, really.

Considering the vast field of needs smothering our globe, the help provided to a handful of young women through my Sweet Sixty Project felt like a mere snowflake in a blizzard. But then again, God never looks at how many needs are left – just at whether you and I are faithful to help the one, the two, the sixty, he points us to.