This document covers the implementation of the SDM (Standard Days Method) as part of Project Lifecycle – a project initiated by Meaningful Volunteer on the island of Tablas in the province of Romblon, the Philippines.
One of the reasons that poverty persists on Tablas is the large family size. The more children you have, the harder it is send them to school, provide them with adequate nutritional food and so on. There are many reasons for the large family size, one of which is inadequate family planning. Anecdotally, it seems like most people are using natural methods such as withdrawal, periodic abstinence and the rhythm method. Family planning seems to be done haphazardly at best.
Note: we will be conducting a survey on the island to find out what the actual reasons are and not rely on anecdotal accounts.
Project Lifecycle is looking to address these issues by the use of the SDM method and Cycle Beads. The SDM method was developed by Georgetown University in the U.S. The SDM method has each lady wear a necklace around her neck. On the first day of the lady’s menstrual cycle, she places a small rubber ring on the red bead. Each day, she moves the rubber ring around one bead at a time. White bead days are considered fertile days, and the lady should avoid having sex on these days. If used correctly, the SDM method is 95% effective.
The SDM method has the following advantages:
- It has a strong scientific basis.
Georgetown University has done extensive research on the technique and has had many articles published in peer reviewed scientific articles.
- There is a small investment by the users of the products .
The Cycle Beads will be priced somewhere between twenty and sixty pesos ($US 0.40 and $US 1.20). Each necklace lasts approximately two years
- 100% Natural
It is a 100% natural method, which is compatible with many of the religious norms on the island.
The project will be headed by Malcolm Trevena – the head of Meaningful Volunteer. Malcolm Trevena has volunteered extensively across Africa and the Philippines. He successfully implemented Grassroots Uganda – a non-profit organization in Uganda that teaches ladies to make jewelry from recycled poster paper. Grassroots Uganda has approximately 100 ladies involved and had a turnover of $US 20,000 in the last financial year. Malcolm will be based on Tablas for approximately one year
Ingrid Potgieter is also working on Project Lifecycle. Ingrid has a strong passion for female human rights and wrote her master thesis on the overlap between female reproductive rights and the Millennium Development Goals. She will be based on the island for at least three months.
Vincent Embile is a Filipino who lives on the island. He will provide logistical support.
We have also identified the following key personnel and stakeholders:
There are several nurses and health care workers working at the local community health care centers. They all are passionate about family planning and will be among our front line workers.
Each midwife on the island services three barangays (villages). The midwives are very much in the forefront of family planning and will be a critical resource for the project going forward.
- The Catholic Church
Approximately 75% of the island are Roman Catholic. The Catholic Church officially endorsed the SDM method at a meeting held on January 21, 2009 – provided modern contraceptives (condoms, the Pill…) weren’t used on the fertile days.
- Healthcare workers at the hospital
The doctors and nurses working at the hospitals in Tablas are often the first people that seekers of both Family Planning and Sexual Health advice talk to. They will be able to provide initial advice on the SDM method before referring the client to someone who can provide more comprehensive advice.
Meaningful Volunteer is an NGO that creates projects aimed at alleviating poverty, and promoting human rights. It provides volunteers with meaningful projects to be involved in, one of which is Project Lifecycle.
Each volunteer pays a fee to be involved in the project (see www.meaningfulvolunteer.org for more details). Some of the fee goes to administration; some of it goes to food and accommodation – volunteers typically stay with host families; but most of the fee goes to support the project they are working on.
For Project Lifecycle, the bulk of the fees will go to buy the necklaces and other support materials.
Meaningful Volunteer is also in the process of putting together a new Internet site called The Meaningful Shop. This will be used to:
- Open up international markets for creators of local crafts
- Provide sponsorship opportunities for local children
The shop will initially sell products from the Philippines, Uganda, South Africa and educational materials that will support former “comfort women” in South Korea.
There are many people who love the idea of Project Lifecycle, but for whatever reasons are unable to volunteer directly. The Meaningful Shop will provide them a way to help by either purchasing cycle beads or providing other financial aid.
The first step to any successful implementation of the SDM method is to find out what the question is. With this is mind, Project Lifecycle will be conducting a survey in targeted barangays. You can download a draft of the survey here.
The survey is primarily designed to gauge the attitudes to sexual health on the island as well as determining average family sizes, infant and child mortality rates and so on.
We will be using some students at the local university to conduct the surveys for us.
Initial Target Areas
We will initially target the barangays of Carmen, Long Beach, Cabolutan and Sogud.
We are still waiting demographic information for these areas for the local government. If we can ascertain barangay size, then we can establish what the demand will be. Other SDM programs report an acceptance rate of the SDM product of between two and fifteen percent in the first year.
We see Project Lifecycle as primarily a marketing project. We need to “sell” this project to many key stakeholders including local healthcare workers, hospital staff, the Church and end users of the products.
Everyone involved in Project Lifecycle is passionate about female human rights and feel that the SDM method is a way to increase these rights.
If we can share this passion with the key stakeholders and market the product effectively, then we are sure that this will have numerous positive spinoffs in the human rights area.
Openness and Integrity
Meaningful Volunteer and Project Lifecycle are committed to openness and integrity. All our findings, successes and challenges that we have overcome will be freely available on the Internet.
Changing the attitudes to sexual health on the island of Tablas is a large challenge. We feel that with the support of Meaningful Volunteer and committed personal, Project Lifecycle can make a positive change on the island in the area of female human rights.