Baked goods at the high tea. (Contributed)

Baked goods at the high tea. (Contributed)

High tea in Maple Ridge to make sure girls don’t skip school. Period.

Marie Luitingh raised money for girls sanitary supplies in South Africa

Many girls in the world miss out on their education every month, simply because they have no access to sanitary supplies when they are on their period.

Marie Luitingh, 17, is hoping to change that.

She raised $3,600 for a non-profit in South Africa that provides reusable sanitary napkin kits for girls to be able to continue attending school during those days.

The Grade 12 Samuel Robertson Technical student, was looking for a worthy cause to raise money for.

She consulted with her mom, Dr. Ursula Luitingh, who asked her cousin in South Africa if she knew of a deserving charity.

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That is when Marie learned about Yami Community Projects, an organization based out of Barberton, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Both Dr. Luitingh, who is from South Africa, and her cousin know the people who run Yami. Dr. Luitingh attended the same church as them when she worked in Barberton from 1992 until 1998, first as an intern at the Barberton Hospital and then as a medical training officer.

Yami is a non-profit that, their website says, is working towards, “the holistic training and upliftment of communities to give them dignity, purpose and hope.”

The main focus of Yami is on education, skills development, entrepreneurial development, environmental clean-up and individual well-being.

One of their projects is called Imbali.

It is through this program that girls in poverty stricken areas are educated about body development, female hygiene and the handling of sanitary towels. They also teach the girls about pregnancy.

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Each girl receives an Imbali Dignity Bucket that contains six reusable sanitary towels, one Ziploc plastic bag for used pads, one bar of soap, one laundry soap, a carry bag that fits two sanitary towels and a Ziploc to take to school and an information pamphlet with personal hygiene and washing instructions.

Only $1 can provide a young girl with sanitary pads for a whole year.

Around 86 people attended a Nov. 16 high tea at the Thornhill Community Hall.

Marie chose to hold a high tea after sharing the experience with her mother at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria where she realized that not everyone can enjoy the same luxury.

Not only did guests of the high tea pay for tickets but they also donated the baked goods as well.

Marie talked to the guests about why they were holding the event, Kirsten Urdahl-Serr explained the history of high tea and then Treena Innes, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice, talked about the importance of philanthropy and volunteering.

Reed Taylor, a friend of Marie’s from SRT, provided live music.

Marie is hoping to make it a yearly event.

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