In the second quarter the “Access to Sanitary Wear for 1000 girls in Matobo” project continued with the Reusable sanitary pads’ solution. The project received two disbursements in the second quarter, the first one on the 21st of December 2018 of $342.72 and the second on the 21st of February 2018 of $425.00. Reusable pads are a more sustainable solution for the young girls in Matobo district as these may be used for over a year, unlike disposable pads that can only be used once leaving them in need of more. Of note however is that the economic crisis continues to affect the livelihoods of the people in Zimbabwe with prices of basic commodities going up on a daily basis. This project however has eased the burden on poor families and rural girls as they do not have to worry about where they will get the money to purchase sanitary wear on a monthly basis. The money is now being channelled to other things such as buying food for the family.
Training the girls on how to make the pads not only provides sanitary pads for them to use but also enables them to acquire a skill they can also use for income generation. The project managed to train a total of forty more girls on how to make reusable sanitary pads and on personal hygiene. The project team also conducted menstrual health training and Sexual Reproductive Health trainings at the weekly Sista2Sista group meeting. Sista2Sista groups are homogenous groups of girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 24 years that seek to create safe spaces for them to learn about sexual reproductive health in order to make informed decisions and stay safe and healthy.
The participants of the trainings were girls from disadvantaged backgrounds whose parents are not able to afford to buy sanitary pads every month for the girls. One of the participants said that her mother buys her pads on average once in four months and during the other months she uses rags and blanket cuttings that she was taught to hang in doors or somewhere concealed as it is taboo for other people to see these. This poses a health hazard as keeping these away from sunlight breeds bacteria and other harmful organisms. The participants were also trained on personal hygiene and how to take care of the sanitary pads they made. It is important for them to hang under direct sunlight until it is completely dry. The participants were happy to have made the pads and a follow ups are being conducted to find out their experiences on using the reusable pads.
Significant changes stories were collected from the girls who were trained in the first quarter. The trainings held in the first quarter were in partnership with the Securing Rights Program and the participants were not only trained on how to make reusable pads but on how to make soap too. Soap is an important component in personal hygiene and it is essential for the girls to always have soap to wash their reusable sanitary pads. Fifteen of the participants have reported that acquiring the skills has made a significant change in their lives. In an interview, one of the participants 22-year-old Sandisiwe Ndlovu, stated that the skills training had made a difference on her life. She had not acquired any skills after high school hence she saw the skills training as an opportunity to better herself. After the training she made more pads, not only for her use but to resale too, of note is that she has managed to save some money which she hopes to buy some small livestock like goats. She also gives back to her community by making sanitary pads for the orphaned children in her community. She is now economically empowered to better her life and the lives of others around her.
For most rural girls the monthly menstrual cycle is a nightmare as they have to endure the discomforts of using unorthodox means such as leaves, cow dung, rags, old pants and tissue as sanitary wear. Due to the economic crises facing Zimbabwe, most families find it hard to set aside a monthly budget to buy food and hence they cut what is deemed as ‘non-essential’ costs and these include pads which now cost $6 per packet. Through the Global Giving Funds, Hope for a Child I Christ (HOCIC) has managed to contribute meaningfully towards the above mentioned problem through sanitary wear distribution in rural schools. To sustain the project the organisation has shifted the program design to include training of young people in Matobo on making re-usable sanitary wear.
HOCIC received 2 disbursements from Global Giving, on the 25th of October $718.25 and on the 22nd of November $488.75, totaling $1207,00. This money was used to buy sanitary wear for a total of 200 rural girls aged 12 to 15 years doing Form 1 up to Form 3 of Secondary School. 156 girls at Mahlothova High School and 44 at Kafusi Annex School received the disposable sanitary wear.A pack which contains 6 packets of sanitary wear was given to the guidance and counselling teachers at the schools so as to assist students in case of emergency. Meetings were held with the girls with Program Facilitators introducing the key concepts of menstruation and how it is a natural experience for every woman. The girls were then taught about menstrual hygiene and the need to change the sanitary pads every 3 to 4hours hours to avoid any bacterial infections.
The price hikes that hit the country in October 2018 saw a pack of sanitary wear rising from $1,50 to $6. There were also shortages in the shops and one could only buy limited stocks. This led to the change in program design. Instead of buying disposable sanitary wear to distribute to the girls, at least 50 Young Women from 3 wards of Matobo (Wards 1, 3 and 10) aged 16 to 24 were trained on how to make re-usable pads, and further taught on the economic and hygienic advantages of using a re-usable pad which include:
HOCIC purchased the Material which includes: Water proof material; Fleece; Napkin material; Velcro. The young women were trained as mentors of Girls Clubs. They will further cascade the training to other girls in their villages. The girls also received skills training on soap making. The ingredients were bought by HOCIC. Besides receiving a lifeskill, the young women will also earn an income from selling the products.
There were price hikes and shortages of commodities in the market including sanitary wear. In retail and wholesale stores, people were only allowed to buy two packs of sanitary pads per person which at times cannot sustain for the whole cycle.
The initial budget and plan was to purchase a ‘dignity pack’ which includes sanitary wear, soap, towel and panties for the girls. However, with the price hikes and small budget this is no longer possible.
The program failed to attract many donors on the Global Giving platform thereby affecting the budget and reach.
To continue with the trainings on reusable pads until all 24 wards of Matobo are reached
To continue fundraising through Global Giving so as to reach more wards and more girls.
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