Israeli twin sisters raise money and deliver supplies for Ugandans
With the help of nonprofit Innovation: Africa, 12-year-old Lital and Maytar Greenfield learn life lessons helping women and children in rural Uganda.
In Uganda's most remote and primitive villages, residents are forced to walk several miles to retrieve water. Girls who begin menstruating often drop out of school for fear of embarrassment. Orphanages are short on mattresses, so some children sleep on makeshift bamboo hammocks.
This is daily life in the landlocked East African country, one of the poorest in the world. For 12-year-old identical twins Lital and Maytar Greenfield of Israel, it fell in striking contrast to the only life they knew: privileged, healthy, educated, safe.
Lital and Maytar moved to Ra'anana, Israel, with their family two years ago from Australia. Not long after said move, the girls' mother told them about a lack of access to feminine hygiene products for girls and women in rural Africa. She told them that some girls try using notebook paper or mattress foam to control the blood flow. It doesn't work, but they have no other options. The topic of menstruation is still taboo in Uganda, so girls don't feel comfortable asking adults or medical professionals about their periods. So many of them stop going to school.
They had an emotional reaction. And then they had an idea.
"I had never thought about this before," Lital told From The Grapevine. "We have everything here, and they don't even have sanitary products. It was definitely an eye opener."
The girls wanted to help. Through a friend's recommendation, they reached out to Innovation: Africa, a nonprofit out of Israel that helps impoverished villages improve their water and power infrastructures. Feminine hygiene is not usually on their list, but for the Greenfield sisters, the organization agreed to pair up with So Sure, a brand of reusable sanitary pads made in Uganda, and help distribute them to girls in need.
Lital and Maytar launched a fundraising campaign for Innovation: Africa about a year ago. They've raised more than $8,500. Just last week, the girls reached the culmination of their campaign: a trip to Uganda with their mother, aunt, uncle and cousin. They were able to visit two orphanages in the country – one with electricity, one without – as well as a school and a few other villages. They also donated dozens of much-needed mattresses, with Innovation: Africa's help.
Along the way, the family saw things that sunk their hearts, but also bolstered their spirits. On the drive back from one of the orphanages, Maytar said she saw children playing in a lake that was littered with plastic trash bags. In a village, the girls watched women walk with buckets of water on their heads that they'd retrieved from a faraway stream. "They walk kilometers and kilometers to get water that's not even clean," Maytar recalled.
At the school, Lital explained, the family handed out some South African chocolates to the students. Afterward, one of them walked up to Lital and Maytar's mother, Eliya, to thank her personally.
"He said he was very grateful because he didn't have any lunch that day," Lital told us.
When the girls returned to Israel, they immediately began putting more thought into the impact they're making on the world around them. "I hate seeing plastic now," Lital said. "And I really don't like food waste. We have so much food left over that just gets wasted."
"It's a real shock to the system," Maytar added. "There is so much that needs to be done, and so many schools and children that need the help. This is only the start."
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