During the 2017 fall semester, Maggie Tobar, a proud El Salvadoran senior majoring in community health, started volunteering at the non-profit Days for Girls as part of a social services assignment.

“Days for Girls is an international non profit that has a purpose to educate others regarding feminine hygiene, provide health education and generate income-generation opportunities through enterprise programs with the women in the communities,” Tobar said.

She explained how many young girls around the world would have to miss school or work when they were on their periods because they lacked the proper hygienic materials that allowed them to go about their daily business. In some parts of the world, women are forced to go to huts in deserted areas while on their periods where they sometimes die from starvation or sickness. It’s also not uncommon for abusive men to rape and beat them while they are in these secluded places.

Days for Girls is aimed at stopping such violence and depravity by empowering girls who were on their periods through the creation of reusable, sustainable pads that would last up to five years and enable them to continue living normal lives while on their periods.

After working with Days for Girls, Tobar saw the potential benefits the organization could have on improving the lives of many young girls in her home country of El Salvador. After discussing her idea with Days for Girls, the non-profit organization generously donated 200 hygiene kits to help Tobar bring feminine independence to the young girls of El Salvador.

“Maggie is the most determined person I’ve ever met. She had already mentioned that she was passionate about the idea of going back to El Salvador and helping people in need,” Tobar’s husband Jose said. “When she told me that Days for Girls was willing to donate some kits so she could take them back to El Salvador, I was really impressed on how she was able to take that opportunity to pursue her dream. There is a phrase that someone once told her that always comes to mind when she does things like this: ‘I couldn’t expect less from you.’”

Tobar worked with Natalie Morton, UVU’s international internship coordinator, who helped make this project into an internship for Tobar as well as helped to ensure that she was insured.The trip was approved by UVU Vice President Jeff Olsen because El Salvador was on the US travel warning list due to violent crime.

Tobar recently presented on the details of her trip when she was asked to speak at the Internship Showcase in the Multicultural center Jan. 31. She also presented at UVU’s SLAM Conference with her panel titled “When Life Gives you Lemons — Use Them to Help Others.”

She was ecstatic to present at both functions and couldn’t help but explain how influential UVU had been in making her trip a reality.

“Through UVU,” Tobar said, “I was able to pursue my passion and help others. I want to let others know that it doesn’t matter if you are [a] traditional or non traditional student, single, married with children, etc., you can still help others [through] using your skills.”

Tobar continues to support Days for Girls and is currently holding a girls underwear drive for the month of February in the TRIO Student Support Services office in the Liberal Arts Building to help make more feminine kits to be distributed to girls in need.