Girls' Health & Hygiene
In our work in the Lemanyata Valley, we learned that many girls miss 3-5 days of school per month as they are experiencing the menstrual cycle. They miss school because they do not have any protection. Thus it is easier to stay home and avoid any embarrassment. This unfortunate situation could be eliminated with the use of a washable, reusable sanitary kit developed by a woman owned company in Uganda, AfriPads. In 2019, AIFA received grant funding to initiate a girls’ menstrual health and hygiene program for Matim PS Standard 6 and Standard 7 girl students (125 kits) and girls at Mukulat Secondary School (200 kits). Since its initiation this program has been tremendously helpful to these young Maasai girls and repeated in 2020 with grant funding. In 2021 we were able to expand the program to five schools through the generous donations of friends of A is for Africa.
Today we are proud to report that we have over 700 girls participating. We have parlayed our program with another NGO, Thrive Global Project, Charlotte, NC, which added 100 more girls. The accompanying photo was taken during the conclusion of their training session. Also there is an important success story in the creation of a woman owned business in Arusha. Ms. Rephrin Kombe, ReePads’s Owner/Director, attested that the support from AIFA allowed her to create a local business where she employs five women seamstresses to make the reusable sanitary pads and undergarments.
How a Simple Sanitary Kit Helped Save One Girl’s Opportunities
On the first day of a 2-day 2019 National Exam, a student came to Headmaster, Mr. Angweni Lang’o, crying. She said that she would have to leave and would miss the exam. When he inquired why, she said, "I have started my period and I have no protection."
Missing the National Standard 7 Examination would mean and end to her formal education. This test is used to weed out less capable and committed students out of the resource-strapped system. Students who don’t complete it and pass don’t move on to high school.
Faced with this dilemma, Mr. Lang’o assured the young lady that he could help. He asked his wife, Mrs. Sophia Lang’o to come to the school with one of the AfriPads kits stocked by AIFA volunteers, Mary Anne Smith and Anna Berger during their January trip. She took the young girl aside and explained how to use the kit. In short order, the student was back in the classroom ready to complete her examination.
The results of the National Exam were released recently. 100% of the 78 Matim students passed the exam. This would not been achieved had AIFA donors had not provided the funds necessary to buy AfriPads.