“No one had informed me about menstrual cycle until it occurred to me for the first time, last year in class. I did not know what was happening to me. I had blood that stained my school uniform. I felt so embarrassed and rushed to Mrs. Mutitima who locked me in the staff room and later bought Sanitary pads for me” These are words of Kawila Ngusu a standard 7 pupil from Uvaani primary school during our Sanitary pads and underwears distribution project at Kitui County on 19th May 20, 2016 at Kangondi Primary School. Kawila added “,As an orphan I stay with my grandmother who struggles so much to pay my fees and cannot afford to buy me sanitary pads hence why I don’t have a choice than to use a rag or a piece of cloth during my periods”
We reached out 10 primary schools at Kangondi Primary school for the Sanitary Sanity Campaign with assistance of Mrs. Kithuka, Head teacher Kangondi Primary school. There was a lot of excitement from the girls and they received us well. All the 500 girls were accompanied by their teachers. Volunteers came on board to participate during the project. Mentorship is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction – John C. Crosby . Girls received mentorship, communication and leadership skills courtesy of Mfariji Clubs. We taught them on how to be confident in their lives, uplifting their self-esteem and how to express themselves without fear.
“Girls stand up to be counted and be courageous enough to talk in front of people without feeling shy. Working hard in your studies will grant you an opportunity to live your dreams. Self-esteem is not a product we can purchase, it is a continuous process we must exercise everyday”, Winny Obure a mentor from Mfariji Africa speaking during the interactive session. Alex Kakungi the M & E officer for Mfariji Africa cited to the girls, “Since you are already in school, that makes you a better person, always focus on your Education”.
Mentorship also included training girls on how to use sanitary pads and maintain high level of hygiene during menstrual periods. After the training session, we got a representative from the girls who confidently showcased how to use the pads. “It was so great for me for to learn on how to use Sanitary towel without assuming and even teaching the other girls”, Said Monica Musyoki, a standard 8 pupil from Mavalo primary school.
Most of the girls lacked adequate knowledge in understanding about their monthly menstruation. To some it was a taboo to talk about it in their homes especially to male counter parts like their fathers and their brothers. Due to stigmatization many girls feel ashamed to go to school because they think other people will notice they are in their periods.
We believe the best gift you can ever give a girl is education and providing her with enough necessity like Sanitary pads so that she can have equal learning opportunity with the boys counterparts.
Each girl received 3 packets of sanitary pads and 2 inner wears. Since the inception of mfariji Africa , over 3500 girls have benefited from Sanitary sanity campaign and Mfariji Clubs. We have ensured they can stay in class and finish school without absenteeism due to periods. Empowering them with knowledge about leadership skills has transformed their lives since they can express their views confidently. “From last time you came I have memorized all what you told us about confidence and I keep practicing. I am no longer shy about approaching my teachers or my parents ”, Monica Musyoki.
One of the observable major challenge hindering girls from adequate access of sanitary facilities was poverty within their families. The little income they earn is utilized to feed their families yet sanitary pads for girls are not a priority. Most parents do not budget to buy pads for their girls,they do not see it as an issue to be addressed in their monthly budgets. It is the major cause of absenteeism of girls in the schools for about a week every month, they miss a lot in class which is difficult to recover”, said Mrs.Kithuka.
“Since Mfariji Africa came to Kitui County, our girls’ lives have not been the same again, they have improved in their studies. They are able to approach us with ease if they have personal issues and we are able to help them. Always continue empowering girls,” remarks from Mrs. Jedidah Ngei from Muthale Primary School.
Our vision is to have these girls sponsored and offered scholarships to continue with their studies. We believe partnering with you will transform a girl’s life.
By Sebastian Musyoka