Working with ease and accuracy, Sharon Dakin sewed “crosses” each Tuesday morning for the last three years. She sat near the side of the fellowship hall where she’d have an outlet for her sewing machine. Working with ease and accuracy, she sewed the ‘crosses’ each Tuesday morning. She smiled as she said later in a Women’s Mission Group, “I say I sew crosses, not reusable feminine pads, because one of the men volunteers came by my machine one morning and remarked, ‘those are really nice crosses you are sewing there.’” Because she was modest, she simply said ‘thank you’ and didn’t bother to divulge her project would benefit young women in third world countries.
One day after her retirement as human resources director for a large suburban Sheriff’s department, she saw the note posted on her church’s FaceBook page.
Needed: Individual(s) with sewing machine and sewing skills to help with international mission project for young women.
Sharon could have said, “No, I’m only going to sew quilts and other fabric art to please myself and my extended family.” Actually, she did filter the FaceBook post somewhere to the back of her mind.
She thought, “I’m active enough at church—I secure all the greeters and serve as a greeter myself on Sunday mornings, I lead a Women’s Mission Group and I’m at church every Monday morning until noon as part of the team to count tithes and offerings.” She allowed her mind to also tell her, “You assist with special events and holiday decorating at the church.”
“I do enough—besides I have a house to maintain, grass to mow and a fragile mother-in-law who lives forty-five minutes away—I must get her groceries every week and she has no way to ‘keep’ doctors’ appointments unless my husband and I take her.”
Sharon completed an embroidered Christmas quilt; then both of her sisters wanted one. Hours of sewing, quilting and embroidery happened as days and months passed.
But—all the time her fingers were nimbly working creatively—the same words kept echoing through her thoughts—that Facebook post she had seen posted by her church. “Well,” she thought, “I could at least ask what this is about.” A phone call to the church office informed her to contact another Mission Group’s leader, Cheryl Melvin. Cheryl’s explanation tugged at Sharon’s heart. It would truly be a mission project if she were sewing items that she would never expect to receive any thanks or pay for doing! What did Cheryl explain? Many young women in third world countries may miss a week of school or be absent from her job each month because she cannot go to a local Walgreen’s or CVS to purchase sanitary pads—there are not funds, besides there simply is not a Walgreen’s or CVS. Around the world, many women use such items as old rags, corn husks, newspaper, mattress padding or even tree bark during their monthly menstrual period. If these items don’t cause infections, most are ineffective at absorption which can lead to leakage, stained clothing and furniture. School girls who stain their uniforms are sneered at by both other students and teachers alike. So, what do most do? They fear moving around and refuse to leave their homes. Because of the social stigma associated with menstruation, the consequences of ignoring female sexual health is often hidden, rarely published and seldom spoken about. Cheryl Melvin explained to Sharon, “There are other groups making reusable sanitary pads, our Mission Group has elected to follow the model called ‘Days for Girls©.’”
No, Sharon did not sew every part of the reusable, washable components that may last for as much as three years., but she sewed more than seven hundred shields over the next three years. Others cut the fabrics and the waterproof layer, attached the snaps on each side of the shorter bar of each ‘cross,’ secured wash cloths wrapped around fresh bars of soap, included a pair of new underpants, placed instruction sheets and monthly calendars in either large Ziploc or drawstring cloth bags to complete the kits. Where have they been sent? The first hundred Days for Girls© Kits went to Cambodia and Vietnam with international missionaries on furlough. Almost all of the others plus some, were placed in Operation Christmas Child boxes for teenage girls. Records report the kits have been delivered to Gabon, Lesotho, South Africa, Mexico and Ghana.
Will Sharon Dakin keep sewing more ‘crosses’ (the shield part) where the long part fits into the part of the underwear which goes between the legs and the short sides of each ‘cross’ snap together underneath? I’m certain she would have. Sadly, Sharon passed away on April 15, 2020, just two months to the day following radical ovarian cancer surgery. What does this say about everyday people who are making a difference for Jesus? When Jesus brings thoughts to the mind’s forefront of what may be done to serve Him—the time is—Now. Don’t wait! Accomplish what can be accomplished at the time!