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IU South Bend to Hold ‘Party with a Purpose’ in Celebration of International Women’s Day

Community Engagement Events Mar 4, 2024

Guests participate in the Party with a Purpose event making sanitary products to help young women in Malawi in the Fireside A&B part ... Party with a Purpose, an event with the goal of keeping girls in school, will be held at Indiana University South Bend on Thursday, March 7 in observance of International Women’s Day which is March 8. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Fireside Room of the Administration Building.

According to organizers, Neovi Karakatsanis, Director of the IU South Bend Honors Program, and Phyllis Wezeman, President of Malawi Matters, the goal of the event is to raise awareness of health issues related to girls in developing countries. In many parts of the world young women miss a week of school every month because they do not have menstrual products to use during their periods. Throughout the afternoon, stations with flannel, terrycloth, and waterproof fabric as well as areas with sewing machines will be available for people to cut, assemble, and sew washable, reusable pads for girls in “The Warm Heart of Africa.”

Since 2005 Malawi Matters, a volunteer-driven organization that originated in Michiana, has been facilitating Creative Methods of HIV & AIDS Education, Culture and HIV-AIDS seminars, and Equipping Women-Empowering Girls courses throughout the central region of Malawi, Africa. Using a train-the-trainer system, MMI’s programs operate in 215 villages, 200 plus congregations, and over 1,500 primary and secondary schools. The organization began at the prompting of the nearly 2,000 people from Malawi residing in the Michiana area. Many are students at IU South Bend and other area colleges.

The idea for the service project began when Wezeman was guest lecturer for the class, Women in Developing Countries, and students wanted to get involved in making a difference in the lives of the girls and women that Malawi Matters educates.

Throughout “Party with a Purpose” there will be guests making mini-presentations about Malawi Matters, life in Malawi, and period poverty. In addition to Malawi Matters books and resources, Africa Bags and Ten Thousand Villages Goshen will provide a display of fair trade items.

People from the community as well as IU South Bend students, faculty, and staff are welcome to drop in whenever their schedule allows. No craft experience or other skills are needed. Materials will be provided but people are welcome to bring clean or new flannel material or terrycloth fabric or towels to use in the project.

People are encouraged to bring packages of pads and tampons that will be distributed to local organizations that serve women in the Michiana area: Broadway Christian Parish, CASA, Center for the Homeless, Dismas House, Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Home for Tracy, Hope Ministries, Our Lady of the Road, River Park Food Pantry, St. Margaret’s House, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Titans Feeding Titans Food Pantry, Upper Room Recovery Community – Women’s House, and YWCA. Representatives of several of these Michiana groups will be in attendance to answer questions and share information about their work.

Sponsors for the event include: Africa Bags; Busy Hands of Michiana; First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend; Indiana University South Bend – Alpha Sigma Tau, Alumni Association South Bend Region, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of History, Feminist Student Union, The Honors Program, International Programs, International Student Services, Raclin School of the Arts, Schurz Library, Student Government Association, Women’s and Gender Studies Program; Kuyamba Ministries; Malawi Matters; Malawi Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Presbytery of Wabash Valley of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Riley High School Career and Technical Education Program; South Bend Community School Corporation; and Ten Thousand Villages Goshen.

This event is part of “Living Matthew 25,” a community-wide Lenten series coordinated by First Presbyterian Church of Downtown South Bend, as a way to help people engage in social justice issues. For additional information, please contact the church at 574-234-4159 or

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