Non-Governmental Organization Of ‘Haki-Elimu Is Teaching Girls How To Make Sanitary Pads

By Hazla Omar in Arusha

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Menstrual cycles, with accompanying bodily changes and sometimes even abdominal pain, can be bad news to most ladies, but when it comes to school girls in remote rural areas, where protective pads are unheard of, the situation can be a nightmare.

Sanitary health, especially among school girls in rural villages is becoming something of paramount concern in the country and already ten districts have taken initiative to train students to make their own pads using local materials.

 In Arusha, the training, coordinated by the Non-Government Organization of ‘Haki-Elimu,’ was conducted in Arumeru District covering four learning institutions, including two primary and two secondary schools where more than 100 students, 50 parents and 50 teachers attended the sessions.

“We conducted research in rural areas and discovered that most girls there use unhealthy methods to address their menstrual cycles,” said Ms HabibaSwedi, one of trainers from Haki-Elimu.

She pointed out that some girls applied cow-dung to seal their private parts, others used grass and weeds, while there are those who secured themselves with old tattered clothes, things that placed them in danger of contacting other diseases.

“Also majority of girls chose to miss classes during their monthly periodic cycles, some staying away for between 4 and 7 days, which means the female pupils and students missed lessons for more than 80 days in a year,” added Ms Swedi.

To address that, the experts have been visiting schools, across the country teaching the girls, their teachers and parents on how to knit sanitary pads using locally available materials as well as simple needle work.

 The Haki-Elimu Program Officer in charge of community involvement, Naomi Mwakilembe said, the training, though targeting girls, it also involved parents and even male students so that they can assist their children and sisters.

“We want the entire community to understand what the girls go through during their menstrual periods, that is why even male students are involved so that when they come across a helpless female pupil undergoing such predicament, they should come in to assist instead of laughing at or ridiculing them,” maintained Ms Mwakilembe.

Coming from pastoral Maasai community, Mzee Steven Yooli, is an uncanny parent who did not even know that girls underwent monthly menstrual periods.

Attending the training at Umoja Primary School, the Maasai elder said was glad to learn how to make pads despite being a man and from the tribe which males did their best to disassociate from women.

“I am sure even my wide needs these pads; I will teach her to make them upon getting back home,” said MzeeYooli, a resident of Maroroni Village in Nduruma Ward of Meru.

One of the students, Rose Tesha, attending Form Four class at Orturmet Secondary Schools said when it comes to pads, they were not even available in villages despite the fact that most residents did not afford them in the first place.

“They are so scarce and valuable such that, if a man present the pads as gift, it is easy to fall into their traps,” said Rose.

Source: allafrica.com

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