Story by Meg Bryant, Photos submitted
There are those who talk about doing things, and there are those who go and do the things. Kayla-Leah Rich is the latter. A little over a year ago, she was presented unexpectedly with offer to go to Haiti and volunteer in a mobile medical clinic. She had never traveled abroad, was admittedly nervous about not knowing what she would eat in another country, and she was just plain scared at the thought of something so far out of her comfort zone. For her, that was a clear sign that she needed to go and expand her horizons.
“It was a ‘yes’ experience,” Rich explained. “There is growth in saying yes.” She was inspired by a close network of women who were out in the world doing things to make an impact and she was ready to get in on the action.
While in Haiti she witnessed the challenges of extreme poverty firsthand, and to make matters worse, her time of the month came outside her usual cycle during the trip, and without the luxury of feminine supplies on hand. The shocking reality set in that this experience is all too standard for countless women around the world, especially in third world countries, where it means missed days of school and work for women for the duration of their periods.
Rich had heard of an organization called Days for Girls before and like a lightning bolt, the importance of their organization hit her. Within one week of returning home, she was busy starting up a local chapter of this global nonprofit in Meridian, Idaho.
Days for Girls is comprised of four critical pillars:
1. Sewing and assembling reusable feminine hygiene kits for global distribution.
2. Raising funds to hire women in third world countries to carry on these programs into the future, providing employment to these hard-working women.
3. Building awareness and changing the dialogue around the female reproductive system to ultimately remove negative stigma and shame.
4. Filling local needs, right here in our community, of sanitary products through grant funding.
The education element has been life changing for both the women and the men who participate in classes led by volunteers like Rich. Personal hygiene basics, simple lessons on anatomy, and information about reproduction have given them empowerment to understand their bodies and help them to avoid infections and plan for their futures more effectively.
With a goal of taking 1,000 kits back to Haiti, Rich has worked tirelessly and has organized over 20 events throughout Meridian, enlisting the helping hands of over 600 volunteers. In November 2016, she and a small team made a second trip to Haiti and delivered 464 kits, while a few hundred more were shipped to India and Uganda, and plans for a delivery to Jamaica are in the works for early spring 2017.
Rich isn’t a one-trick pony. Far from it. She runs a drywall business with her husband, is a busy mom of four boys, facilitates workshops that will change the way you organize your home inside and out, she is a dynamic public speaker, and an author. Check out her new book, Fun to be You with Purple Crayon Confidence.
Rich has been selected as a speaker for the TEDxBoise event April 8, 2017 where she will speak candidly about a subject that we really all have in common. Periods. Without menstruation cycles, none of us would be here. It is a natural, beautiful gift that builds families. Her goal is to normalize the subject and remove the shame that half the world’s population carries. You can join in on the conversation on Facebook in a public group she has created called, you guessed it, “Periods.”