My name is Michael. I'm 22 years old, and I studied Business Administration.
I always wanted to become a professional. I applied for jobs at different companies, but unfortunately I never received a positive response.
Eight months ago, I saw a post on Facebook. The Lily Project was looking for a driver. At that moment I hesitated to apply because that was not my original profession. After thinking about it for a moment, I changed my perspective, and I saw it as an opportunity to work. With the situation in our country any job is a blessing! I finally decided to apply and I was hired.
During my time with Lily I have learned a lot, and I have evolved not only professionally but also as a person. I am part of a team and, we all strive to be better every day. Something I've learned and would never have imagined is how complex and amazing the world of women is - especially everything that happens during each menstrual cycle. I have managed to see how men act in relation to these things, and I’ve been surprised to see that this is not an attitude assumed just by men; I’ve also seen attitudes like this coming from women who attend our events. The attitude is cultural.
Now I do not feel like a simple driver, I feel part of change. I participate in the events by organizing women, inviting women to events, and even explaining to women the importance of having a Pap smear. I would never have imagined doing this, and I never expected to learn so much about women's health or knowing what I know now. I am very grateful for this experience.
Dear Friends of Lily,
A number of our supporters have reached out and asked how Lily is doing as Nicaragua’s civil unrest moves into a fourth month. I think many are surprised when I answer: The Lily Project's good work continues.
I've wondered...why is Lily able to move forward while some others are not? And always two words come to mind that perfectly describe our team's thinking during this time – Creative Resilience. Out of curiosity I googled the term and found it actually is “a thing” and considered essential for success during times of crisis. Good to know! Here’s what you can expect from Lily:
Understand and adjust to our new reality. When roadblocks make it impossible to travel to rural communities, we shift to work or training that can be done safely in the city or online. Across Nicaragua, NGOs were told by the government to halt work. When the edict came down Anielka worked with the Ministry of Health to solicit and receive approval from the government to continue our operations – a true endorsement of the work we are doing. We are finding that challenges like these can be worked through and at times create new opportunities.
Stay focused on our mission. Lily’s leaders are young women determined to create better lives for women and girls in their country. They give and get joy through their work: teaching adolescent girls to respect and protect their bodies; screening women for cervical cancer; and helping women who have experienced sexual trauma. A day with Lily becomes an oasis amidst the stress of uncertainty and violence. Check out our Facebook page and you will see this in action!
Make progress. We are in the process of redefining our goals for the year. While the number of cancer screenings is likely to be lower, the number of girls receiving sexual health education will be higher than planned. Our strategic development continues - we are on the final stage of beta-testing our data platform to facilitate offline/online patient data collection, management and analysis and in the early stage of a joint research effort with Dr. Kammi Schmeer and her team at The Ohio State University. We are here for the long haul and with your support we can continue to bring health and hope to thousands of women and girls we serve in Nicaragua.
Just imagine the fear of a young girl when she gets her period and has no idea of what is happening to her body and no one to tell her the truth. As UNESCO recently reported, this is the case for nearly 2 out of 3 girls in countries like Nicaragua. Our data goes further and shows that many mothers do not understand the relationship between their cycle and fertility - and think their menstrual bleeding is a disease.
We believe to reduce Nicaragua's high rates of teenage pregnancy and cervical cancer, The Lily Project must make it possible for girls to understand, respect and protect their own bodies.
Thanks to the Friends of Lily, we have launched Lily's Girl Power education program - initially focusing on sexual and reproductive health. Joining Lily's mobile health teams are interns dedicated to outreach and education of girls and young women. The curriculum incorporates simple tools such as a cycle tracking bracelet (worn by the sisters above) and body apron to create an interactive and fun learning process. We will be testing and refining the curriculum over the next few months, measuring our impact on girls' understanding, attitudes and behaviors.
But we can't do it alone! Joining us is an alliance of high school and college-aged girls who want to help create better futures for girls in Nicaragua. Interested in learning more? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.