Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women

by Brighter Communities Worldwide
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Invest in Menstrual Health for girls and women
Teaching from a Tapestry
Teaching from a Tapestry

Thank you for supporting our Invest In Women and Girls programme. Support women and you support a Community. 

The month of May is key for this programme. Probably our busiest, most exciting, and emotional month. Brighter Communities Worldwide have been working on menstrual health since 2010. We are committed to the belief that menstruation is not just ' women's business' but 'community business'. It involves men, women, boys, and girls and includes information, infrastructure, and reusable sanitary kits.

The month of May sees a global acknowledgment on International Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28th. Here in Kenya as we still await a comprehensive Covid-19 vaccination rollout (only 28% of adults in Kericho County are vaccinated) we have, for the third year,  adapted our progamme to take this into account at social gatherings. So we run our programme throughout the month of May. Our trained Ambassadors are out in the Community, visiting over 22 different locations with a target to reach 500 people. Both men and women come from far and wide to attend, many walking long distances to attend. 

Each day men and women will come together in their community to attend our workshops and discuss sexual and reproductive health. Our trained ambassadors deliver informative sessions, breaking down myths and taboos. Teaching using tapestries as usual presentation materials are rarely available. Tapestries are a visual tool that can be used over and over, are easily transportable, and don't require electricity.

Many girls do not have access to sanitary pads. They improvise using old clothes, blankets, or even sit on cardboard to absorb the flow. They stay at home during menstruation as a result they do not finish school, do not engage in employment, and suffer from low self-esteem. Girls are then more likely to marry young and are susceptible to FGM and teen pregnancy. Women are affected by the stigmatization and without education are limited.

So this month within our Community workshops we have been supplying reusable sanitary kits. A kit contains a waterproof liner, 2 heavy pads, 1 lighter pad ( made from old t-shirts), underwear, and soap for handwashing. Our Ambassadors teach how to make the pads from materials that are available to them, in this way a kit can be added to and can last a woman up to three years. 

So for the month of May we continue our belief that no woman or girl should be left behind because they menstruate.  A kit costs just €5 and will provide a passport to a brighter future and change a life forever.

 

 

A reusable Sanitary kit
A reusable Sanitary kit
MHD 28/05
MHD 28/05

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As we head into a new year with this project we reflect on the difference your support has made so far and share some stories from those involved and benefitting from your generosity.

During 2021, the Menstrual Health Ambassador Programme involved - 

  • 201 men and women across 21 communities who were trained as ambassadors. These trainings took place in small groups.
  • In total the ambassadors have sensitized 6,533 people (2,204 girls, 573 boys, 2,887 women and 869 men) across 21 community units in 4 Sub Counties.
  • 1070 vulnerable girls and 1247 vulnerable women were provided with starter kits of hygiene products. 

While sensitizing on menstrual health, the Ambassadors demonstrated to participants how to make reusable sanitary pads from locally available materials (t-shirts). This enabled girls and women to add to their starter kit and ensure they are comfortable throughout their period. After some few months the ambassadors did follow up and 556 Girls and 507 women made their own additional reusable sanitary kits.

As the pandemic is causing a greater need for sanitary kits in the communities, we planned for the second round distribution of starter kits. We managed to reach out to: 918 girls and 208 boys, 1279 women and 287 men and we provided 477 vulnerable girls and 473 women with starter kits.

  • These words are from Wisma, a 17 year secondary school student who was trained by one of the menstrual health ambassadors - "Brighter Communities Worldwide came to our village and educated us on menstrual health.  The state of our village was that nobody knew about it, it was like something secret but now pepole talk about it openly and there is no fear anymore.  We've been taught on how to use re-usable pads ad make our own sanitary pads - in the past it was difficult to get money for buying sanitary pads and now life is wow!".
  • Mother of 5 girls, Ruth, was ambarrassed to talk to her girls about menstruation and sexual and reproductive health because she didn't have the knowledge herself.  But she took part in a workshop with her girls and now she says "Our mentality and behaviour has changed and we’ve been able to make our own sanitary towels that are reusable. This means we save money for other household essentials.  We now talk freely without fear, we understand how important it is to manage menstruation hygienically both at home and also at school “.
  • Joseph is a menstrual Health Ambassador and he comes from a community where talking openly about Menstruation was strongly disapproved. “This changed after menstrual health sensitisation and people can now talk openly without fear or shame’’, he said.

The volunteer ambassadors help empower women and girls by sharing correct information about menstruation and sexual and reprodutive health.  They open up discussions and encourage communities to talk openly and discuss the issues surrounding this area breaking taboos and opening up a safe place to talk. The community learn to repect girls and women and provide what they need to manage their mensutration safely and with dignity.

We thank you for your continued support 

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Menstruation bracelet - a global symbol
Menstruation bracelet - a global symbol

In our last report to you May, we were getting ready to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day. The theme of the event this year was ‘to educate, eradicate stigma and end period poverty’.  To comply with COVID-19 restrictions and reach as many communities as possible we spread our programme activities and celebrations across the month of May.   Participants included men, women, girls and boys.  The programme was very interactive and included different activities all geared towards offering education and breaking the silence on menstrual health issues. A total of 269 people attended 19 workshops. The actual day itself was celebrated on Friday 28th May in Ndarugu, Kipkelion East Sub-County.

This programme continues throughout the year and the content of our workshops includes 6 sessions – Growth and body changes – learning about puberty; Reproductive health – learning about the menstrual cycle, reproductive health systems and providing a safe space for participants to discuss related issues; Reusable sanitary kits – demonstration of reusable pads and how to make them using locally available materials; Challenges to menstrual health management – challenges faced by women and girls include the expense of buying sanitary towels for families already struggling with finances, lack of emotional support and understanding, lack of access to water, soap, pads, missing out on school and work every month and taboos within families and the communities around menstruation which cause further isolation and lack of support; Bracelet making - the menstruation bracelet is a global symbol for menstruation and a teaching tool with 28 sections made of beads or card to signify the menstrual cycle and Games and Sports – included to break barriers and highlight that periods shouldn’t inhibit women and girls in what they can do during their periods once they have the knowledge and support to manage them.

Maria Kidney is a founding member of Brighter Communities Worldwide and has been in Kenya throughout the pandemic.  Reflecting on the month’s activities Maria says – “I was privileged to be part of several of the sessions and to witness the transformation that this programme is having across communities.  Women and girls arrive very shy, and hardly looking at each other; once we run the workshops and sessions you see the change coming – they share with each other, they learn from each other but most of all they realise that they are not alone – there are others who are struggling in the same way; there is hope – and I guess that is the key!  There must be hope!     Imagine reaching your 50s and 60s and not fully understanding your own reproductive health; not having a say in the use of your body; not realising so many things?  It is hard to fathom but this truly is the reality where we work.  Women and girls and men and boys – lack the basic knowledge and understanding of sexual and reproductive health, it is a taboo topic which is not spoken about”.

Speaking about the impact of Covid-19, Maria says “The demand from across communities for our sexual and reproductive health programme is massive.  I think we are truly seeing the devastating impacts on women and girls in the last months.  Our outreach clinics are full of teenage mums; the rising poverty and hardship is very visible and a recent report published outlines how over 400,000 school children did not return to school in Kenya. Reports of 260,000 teenage pregnancies are mind blowing, and so the need to continue this menstrual health/sexual reproductive health programme across communities is huge”.

Thank you so much for the part you play in supporting this programme and changing the lives of so many communities across Kericho county.

Exploring how the body changes in puberty
Exploring how the body changes in puberty
Making reusable sanitary pads from old t-shirts
Making reusable sanitary pads from old t-shirts
Games breaking down barriers
Games breaking down barriers
Learning about the reproductive system
Learning about the reproductive system
Global solidarity with menstruation bracelets
Global solidarity with menstruation bracelets

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Thank you for supporting our Invest in girls and Women programme.

We had an extremely busy International Women's Day #IWD2021. In fact, due to COVID 19 restrictions, it really became International Women's month. Traditionally International Women's Day is a huge event and celebration in Kericho County, Kenya. Villages come together and hundreds of women sing, dance, and celebrate. This year, however, smaller groups met, socially distanced and masked, to discuss the real challenges facing women today in the region. More than 416 men and women met in 16 Community units. It opened up a dialogue of what really affects gender equality and women in the community, the daily stigma they face, their missed opportunism, and how it affects their own self-esteem. Choosing to challenge the norms of society. It created a safe space for these discussions to take place. It allowed women and girls to face these challenges and support one another, space for community leaders to listen and understand. Going forward to develop ways within their Communities to #ChoosetoChallenge. Many groups took place all over the region, following on from the discussions the women and girls still found the energy to dance and sing to celebrate their aspirations.

 

Our work in Schools continues, with regular deliveries of materials to provide handwashing facilities, Since the beginning of the year we have delivered 624 boxes of soap, 624 100 Ltr water tanks, buckets and taps for handwashing to ensure the safety of all children in their schools. We've delivered posters and banners to 312 schools across the region.

 

The month of May is Menstrual Hygiene month and culminates with Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28th. Young girls and Women face huge challenges. Periods don't stop for pandemics. There are a lot of myths and taboos surrounding menstruation, with many young girls not knowing what is happening to their bodies when their periods start. There is little knowledge of sexual health. There is limited access to sanitary pads. Frequently this means girls miss school every month, they fall behind in their education, and then drop out. Without Education, it is extremely difficult to break the poverty cycle. This month will see Brighter Communities Worldwide supporting girls in schools through providing information, talks, reusable sanitary pads, and menstrual hygiene through latrines washrooms, soap, and water. We will also participate in #MHD2021 by making menstrual bracelets. In the community too, due to Covid 19 regulations, we no longer hold large meetings but instead, our staff trained community volunteers as Menstrual Hygiene Ambassadors who go out into the community and work with small groups of both men and women. Girls staying in school will go some way to address gender equality. For more information visit our project. Supporting women supports the whole Community.

Participant making the menstruation braclet
Participant making the menstruation braclet
Participants at menstrual health workshop
Participants at menstrual health workshop
Women learning about the menstrual cycle
Women learning about the menstrual cycle
Participant making the menstruation braclet
Participant making the menstruation braclet
"It's time for change"
"It's time for change"
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Brighter Communities Worldwide

Location: Cobh, Cork - Ireland
Website:
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Twitter: @4abrighterworld
Project Leader:
Maria Kidney
Midleton, Cork Ireland
$11,889 raised of $24,274 goal
 
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$12,385 to go
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