St. Stephen’s Supports Feminine Product Program in Haiti

St. Stephen’s 20-plus year relationship with St. Etienne Episcopal School in Salmadere, Haiti is a partnership that continues to fulfill its mission. Its recent success heralds the work of two Haitian health educators, Antoinette Océan and Filona Dolcéa, who took a risky and dangerous trip to successfully deliver feminine products to St. Etienne. Océan and Dolcéa serve as health ambassadors for Days for Girls–an international non-profit committed to menstrual equity around the world. The women journeyed on a motorbike from Cap-Haitien, Haiti to the school, at a time when the region has been hit with heavy rain and continues to be crippled by ongoing gang violence. The women–via school translator Edvard– shared news and pictures of their successful journey with St. Stephen’s Sports Medicine Director and Athletic Trainer Kathy Rainey who was also a faculty sponsor during a Haiti trip. She has helped to coordinate the product delivery.

“The photos show what the very stark differences are between [Austin] and there, and I think it brings home to students that since they can't travel there anymore, we still need to be tied to St. Etienne,” says Rainey.

Several years ago, a group of St. Stephen’s students who traveled to Haiti were shocked at the lack of access to feminine care products and reproductive health education. Spartans also learned that lack of access had a significant impact on Haitian girls’ daily life. Without pads or tampons and proper education on the subject, Haitian girls are often not able to attend school while they are on their periods, putting them at a higher risk of dropping out of school.

When those St. Stephen’s students returned home to Austin, they were compelled to take action and do what they could to help. The students teamed up with Days for Girls, an international organization that increases access to menstrual care and education. The organization produces a patented menstrual health kit, which includes a washable, reusable protective shield and two absorbent liners, soap, underwear, a washcloth, instructions, a carrying pouch and a drawstring bag to hold everything. For several years, the students raised money to purchase the kits, delivered them to Haiti and educated the students and faculty on how to use them.

“My goal is sustainability so that we're not just buying the products here and shipping it there, but the products are made in Haiti and the money we send goes to Haiti–to their economy, to the health educators, the seamstresses,” said Rainey.

Rainey says coordinating and arranging logistics takes time and energy and she is happy to do it.

“I feel like I'm kind of an interim of keeping [the program] alive with a goal of ‘how do we continue to grow it in the future?’, whether that is we have a standing donor, or things change in Haiti,” said Rainey.

Rainey is grateful for the school’s support of this project, along with those in Haiti helping make this happen, which includes Reverend Denise, the translator Edvard, and everyone from the Days for Girls team.
St. Stephen’s continues to support our sister school St. Etienne Episcopal School in Salmadere, Haiti, despite the fact we have not been able to send students, faculty or staff to the region for several years due to the Covid pandemic and ongoing gang violence.
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213