Thanks to the fundraising work of Auburn’s Global Studies students, dozens of girls in Africa now have access to menstrual health resources. And the thousands raised for the Auburn Girls initiative started with one student’s drive to make a change.
Maddie Marsh is a junior in Global Studies in Human Sciences, with two minors in Nonprofit and Philanthropy Studies and Business, who has already made a name for herself in the advocacy world. In January, Marsh was invited to speak to The One Campaign’s board of directors, where she met Sani Muhammad, another student activist. Muhammad founded Bridge Connect Africa Initiative, or BCAI, a nonprofit that advocates for safety, health and education for young women and girls.
“When I met Sani I could immediately see a passionate, hard-working, and relentless activist with an overwhelming amount of compassion for others. His fierce attitude toward justice shines as he fights for the people who are born into devastating circumstances that are beyond their control,” Marsh said. “When getting to know Sani, he told me his story of why he founded BCAI and the devastating events that happen much too often in Nigeria. There’s an extremely unbalanced distribution of opportunity and resources in this world. I was overwhelmingly compelled and knew it was my responsibility to help. I recognized a need and an opportunity to fill that need.”
Each semester, the Intro to Global Studies course tasks students with a final project that merges international philanthropy with business practices. Students start with one dollar, raise capital, make a product and sell it for a nonprofit organization. This year, Marsh connected the program with Muhammad and the course raised funds for BCAI.
Global Studies Lecturer Abbi-Storm McCann leads the class and said the dedication of her students and BCAI’s team was inspiring.
“It’s really gratifying to see today’s students become passionate about a project. I think it gives the next generation of classes motivation to see the good that this one project can do in the world. It’s not often such a big profit is made, so for that money to really make a difference for the Auburn Girls is incredible,” McCann said. “Sani really took it to the next level by being so transparent with how the funds are being used and even naming the initiative after Auburn. I hope to see a lasting relationship form because of this one class’ work.”
At the end of the project, the Global Studies’ student-run mini-businesses raised $2,700 for BCAI.
BCAI used the donation to fund the training of 40 adolescent girls in Nigeria to make “dignity kits” for menstrual health, which include resources that may not be regularly available in rural communities. The initiative counteracts ‘period poverty,’ increases health benefits and reduces the stigma around menstruation while boosting girls’ self-esteem and allowing them to continue their education. Muhammad named the event “Auburn Girls” in dedication to the Global Studies students who made it possible.
Marsh said she’s thankful for the incredible opportunity to help girls in Africa learn practical skills and improve their quality of life.
“I believe that is what we are all called to do. What we have isn’t our own; our circumstances often reflect what we were born into, and it is our responsibility to stay educated and weave our lives into bettering the communities around us,” Marsh said. “I’m so grateful to Auburn University and the Global Studies program that they could see the impact that could be made through Sani’s organization-- one that will have lasting effects on the lives of so many young girls.”
For more information on BCAI or to donate, visit www.bridgeconnectafrica.org.