In Term 2 of the 2023 school year, 379 students in 12 primary schools bordering Kibale National Park in Uganda participated in our trainings on the making of Reusable Menstrual Pads (RUMPs) as part of our after-school student health club programming. We also held health fairs in 11 of these schools, which gave health club members the opportunity to demonstrate to their peers, teachers, parents, and other community members what they have been learning (e.g., nutrition, organic farming, personal hygiene, recycling)—including their new RUMPs-making skills. Through this public event, we were able to raise awareness about what health clubs are teaching and to encourage the implementation of these activities at home. Parents were thrilled see their kids in action, and attendees confirmed that club members are actively teaching their family members and friends how to make RUMPs. So the scope of our training program keeps expanding, thanks to the initiative of these amazing kids! Our health fairs reached 6,000 children and 1,500 parents plus many others. Because these events were extremely popular, five more schools will host health fairs in October 2023.
Our first school term back in 2023 has wrapped, and we are happy to report that our reusable menstrual pad (RUMPs) trainings are as popular as ever. The Kasiisi Project works with health clubs in all 16 of our partner primary schools to teach girls how to make RUMPs from affordable, locally available materials to help them better manage their periods and keep them in school.
Our health team and teachers noticed that girls were sometimes teased by male classmates who saw the after-school RUMPs activities, so we decided to also engage boys in these activities and in our menstrual health education programs more broadly. This made a big difference and has greatly reduced the stigmatization of girls. We also now see boys supporting their sisters and mothers by making RUMPs for them and passing on the skills they learned. It has strengthened the camaraderie in our health clubs too. It's critical that this program involves both girls and boys!
Uganda closed its schools for longer than any other country during COVID and most of our children had no classroom time for 2 years. All children but especailly girls were deeply impacted. Many married off early, teen pregnancy rates skyrocketed and with incomes falling working in the informal economy helped support families, money that it is hard to do without just because schools have opened again. It is calculated that 30% of children did not return.
Last year for us was a "getting back on our feet" year. Schools, neglected for 2 years, needed a lot of infrastructure repair and children had to get used to sitting in class again. We delayed some of our programs while the schools sorted themselves out but we are going into 2023 with all guns blazing.
We will be holding reproductive health Peer Education training, teaching girls, teachers and parents how to make reusable menstrual pads, awarding secondary school scholarships to the neediest girls, building girl friendly latrines, building our health clubs and supporting our 14 new girl scout troups.
We will not only regain lost ground but surpass it.
This year marks 100 years of excellence in Girl Guiding in Uganda. While many girls travelled to Kampala to join competitions at the national level the Kasiisi Project celebrated the event locally. We were in a great position to do having held a ForGirlsSake funded Girl Guide leader training program earlier in the year, ensuring that all our schools has girl guide troups.
128 Guides ( known as Girl Scouts in the USA) and 16 Guide Leaders from 16 Schools met at the Kasiisi Project farm camp ground for 2 days of competition and camping. The event was voted a great success and requests were made to make this an annual event.
We were asked by a neighbouring school district to hold workshops to teach their girls to construct homemade reusable menstrual pads (RUMPS). Store bought pads are beyond the reach of many rural Ugandan girls, especially when the COVID epidemic has hit so many family budgets. A lack of pads means that girls often miss school for 5 days a month. RUMPS, made from easily obtained scrap materials can be washed and reused many times, giving girls a budget friendly alternative to commercial products. Senior woman teachers and five girls from each of 7 schools attended a workshop run by our staff. They will now teach their new skills to their peers.
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