Care to Guess?

Tomorrow is the big day!  Handshakes go out and we will know our next post.  Actually, we’re 99% sure what it’s going to be, but we have to wait until tomorrow for the big reveal.

Three hints:

  1. It’s in the Northern Hemisphere; no more summer/winter mixups.
  2. It was our first choice of the possibilities presented on our bid list; and there were some really awesome possibilities on our bid list.
  3. It’s somewhere on here:

Days for Girls

Yesterday, I went with my friend Diana into the Soweto Township in Johannesburg.  Diana works for an NGO called Days for Girls.  This NGO has basically three purposes:  one is to go into less privileged areas and teach teenage girls about their bodies, feminine hygiene, menstruation, sexuality and pregnancy.  Another purpose is to provide these girls with menstruation kits that include discrete, washable, reusable hygiene pads.  The third purpose of the NGO is to provide micro-enterprise opportunities for women around the world to make and sell the kits.

Check out their website here.

According to the Days For Girls website, 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, 113 million adolescent girls in India, and 30% of girls in rural Brazil will miss school this year because of the inability to handle basic menstrual hygiene.  And sadly, countless girls around the world drop out of school completely because of their inability to adequately handle their monthly cycles.

The purpose of our trip to Soweto was to teach a group of high school age girls, as well as hand out hygiene kits.  I wanted my 13-year-old daughter Elizabeth to experience one of these meetings, so we brought her, along with Diana’s 12-year-old daughter Jenna.

We met at a high school, where around 30 girls were patiently waiting for us.  Diana, a master teacher, spent about two hours in discussion with the girls.  She spoke openly about bodies, menstruation and sexuality.  And she allowed the girls to ask any questions, free from judgement or criticism.


I don’t know too many 16 and 17-year-old girls who would sit still for two hours listening to anything, but these girls were mesmerized!!  They were so engaged in the discussion.  They could obviously sense that the information they were receiving was important and this could help to improve their quality of life.


At one point, Diana had the girls close their eyes and hold up a green card if they knew someone who had missed school because of their periods.  Another question was whether these girls had consistent access to feminine hygiene products.  I was shocked at the number of girls who held up green cards.

Another important part of the discussion was rape.  Tragically, rape is something many of these girls will or have faced in their lives.  Before the presentation, one of the school administrators told us that many girls dropped out of school because of pregnancy, most of which are a result of rape.  Diana lovingly told the girls that if this had happened to them that it was not their fault and that their only obligation in those situations was to stay alive.  She forcefully told these girls that they were not to blame and they had no reason to feel ashamed.

After the presentation, each girl received a menstruation kit that should last about three years.  These kits are cute, ingenious and discreet.  The kits have been through 28 different versions, so the current version is an incredible product.  Their first kits were given to the girls for free and additions to the kits can be purchased for 35 rand (about $2.60).

Check out these beautiful girls holding up their kits:


Days for Girls currently has over 1,200 teams and chapters around the world with over 50,000 volunteers in 113 countries.  Over 800,000 kits have been distributed.  They are currently running a campaign called #countHERin where they are hoping to reach 1 million kits before the end of 2017.

If you’re interested in donating or becoming involved in Days for Girls, please contact Diana at or check out the website linked above.

And finally, just because I know it will make you smile, check out this mom and baby from Soweto:


I told you it would make you smile.

The Last Straw

I’ve been in the US for about 2 1/2 weeks.  It’s nice to be home.

Jason and I have decided to sell our house in Utah.  We have owned this home for 13 years.  We bought it 6 years before we joined the Foreign Service.  We rented it out for 6 years with the understanding that our renters had to leave for 4-6 weeks when we came home in the summer.  It has worked well.  Our kids have loved coming back to their childhood home, sleeping in their old beds, in their old sheets; seeing their old childhood friends.  They have been able to come home and be normal American kids for a few weeks every summer.  This house has been a blessing.

But Jason and I both agree it’s time to sell.

I arrived in Utah on July 1st and I have been madly trying to get the house ready to sell.  The house officially went on the market this past Saturday with an open house.  I had been madly running around all morning, taking care of last minute details before the open house started. Everything seemed to go wrong. I was on the verge of a breakdown.  Jason was flying in from Johannesburg and just as the open house was about to begin, I had to leave to pick him up from the airport.

Then, as I went out to the car, I realized that I had a flat tire.  It was the last straw!

Just then, our dear neighbor Dave I. drove by.  He could see I was in major distress and he pulled over and stopped his car.  He didn’t ask if I was ok or what was wrong.  All he said was, “Erin, what do you need me to do?!”

It was exactly what I needed at that very moment.

I told him my tire was flat.  He told me to leave him the keys and he would take care of it.  And he did.

I was able to pick up Jason from the airport and the open house went off without a hitch.  Last night we accepted a full offer on the house.  Just before I leave to return to South Africa in a few weeks, we’ll have movers come and take all our stuff to storage.  We’re hoping to purchase a condo in the next couple of years; something with no yards that will easier to maintain from overseas.

Selling the house has been bitter-sweet.  We know it’s what we need to do, but it’s closing the door on a chapter of our lives.  A lot has happened in this house; a lot of live has been lived here.  It will be especially hard to say goodbye to neighbors; especially neighbors who, many times throughout the years have asked, “What do you need me to do?!”

This is a great neighborhood, and we will miss it dearly.