In May, we explored the topic of menstruation. We challenged ourselves to not only consider the way we, as Western women, experience our periods, but to look at the way others experience menstruation around the world. Our search into this topic led us to Uganda, where many girls miss school when they menstruate due to lack of supplies. Our community rallied around this cause, spreading the word about why menstruation matters. With the assistance of our partners at AFRIpads, we set the goal to donate 500 menstrual kits to these girls in order to keep them in school when on their periods.
Within just a week of starting the campaign, we reached our initial goal of donating 500 menstrual kits. In total, Kindara community members donated 1875 menstrual kits to school girls in Uganda.
"This will make a big difference in their lives," said Helen, AFRIpads Communication & Partnerships Officer. "Instead of worrying every month whether they will get the funds together to buy sanitary pads, or calling in sick every month because they want to avoid the embarrassment of any leakages at school, they now have security as they are covered for 12+ months."
Our donation went to girls and their female teachers in two rural regions of Uganda: the Amolatar and Iganga districts.
In mid July, the first 1,050 kits were donated to girls at Apuuti Primary and Secondary Schools in the Amolatar district. For the past three years, students from nearby Makerere University have been conducting a study on menstrual hygiene in this area. The university students realized that reusable pads would be beneficial for the girls in the schools and sent in a proposal to AFRIpads requesting donations for the students. We're thrilled that more than half of our donation will help the girls at Apuuti - and that we will be able to learn the actual impact of the donation from the students' research!
Our friend Helen helped deliver the pads. She noted the girls at Apuuti erupted in giggles as the teachers demonstrated how to use the pads, as they are not accustomed to talking about menstruation so openly. However, the laughter quickly subsided and the young students began to ask questions about menstrual hygiene. According to Helen, the girls were so excited when they realized they were each going to receive their own menstrual kit. To say thank you, they performed two songs and a dance.
The remaining 825 kits of our donation were given out on July 23rd in the Iganga District, in the eastern part of Uganda. The donation was facilitated by CINTA, an education and empowerment NGO that requested the donation on behalf of eight primary schools in the area (Buweire Primary, Nakigo Nabuwat Primary, Busembatya Primary, Buvule Primary, Nabitende Primary, Itanda Primary, Nabukone Primary, and Kakongoka Primary). The District Education Officer and a reporter from New Vision, the largest newspaper in Uganda, were present for the donation in order to learn more about the impact of menstruation on girls in school.
Many of the schools in Iganga did not have a place for the girls to change their sanitary materials (which range from banana fibers to soil and rags). For this reason, many girls walk home - which is often miles away - a few times a day when menstruating. To mitigate this, all AFRIpads kits come with a storage bag that allows girls to transport their used pads and store replacements, effectively decreasing the amount of times girls need to return home to change their materials.
The teachers noted the difficult measures their female students took to manage menstruation in school.
"Rebecca has always had to make a 30 minute journey back home to change her pad not less than twice a day for the first and second days of her menstruation cycle,” said one teacher of her student who received a kit. “She is very excited about the new kit because this, to her, is an answered prayer."
Forty five teachers from Iganga were also given reusable menstrual kits. Many teachers face the same challenges dealing with their periods as their young female students.
From all of us at Kindara, AFRIpads, and the recipients of the menstrual kits, we'd like to thank everyone who donated a menstrual kit in May. These girls face a variety of challenges, but your donation has already started to help girls attend school while menstruating and manage their periods in a more hygienic manner. This is a positive step in the direction of empowering women and girls. Thank you.
Want to see more? Scroll through the photos below to see the photos of the many girls and teachers who received reusable menstrual kits. For more details about the donation, you can view the full donation report here.