Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa

by Femme International
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa

Happy New Year to our Dear Supporters!!!

We are all settling in well to the 2023 year  and we are thankful for the last year.

Menstrual health is a human rights issue that affects all aspects of a person’s life and well-being. It involves health services, positive social norms regarding menstruation and gender, and effective advocacy and policies. “We have witnessed a decrease in absenteeism among girls in our school, your program has a positive impact on girls’ studies”, These are among the testimonies we have received from different schools that Femme International has managed to train her students on menstrual health management subject.

Many girls especially are not well informed about menstruation, and the information shared by their trusted sources which are their parents and caretakers neither adequate nor timely. Nor have witnessed many girls, especially those from the low bound cannot access menstrual health products, which increases challenges to the daily lives of girls. However, through the Twaweza program, Femme International has managed to train and distribute menstrual products and painkillers to different schools that we have been working with.

The activities mentioned above fall into two objectives

  1. Increase awareness and understanding regarding menstruation among girls and boys in secondary schools.
  2. To increase understanding of the quality, accessibility, and acceptability of menstrual products.
  3. To decrease stigma, norms and bad social-cultural practices regarding menstruation. 

We have been focusing on working with young girls and boys aged 13 to 19 years who are in secondary schools, but also our education has expanded to community members through community meetings where adult men and women meet. Twaweza has increased the ability for women and young girls to make informed decisions regarding their lives and bodies. In this quarter we have been working with different organizations and governments to ensure women and girls have access to justice including gender-based violence relating to menstrual health.

Twaweza workshop in schools.

Twaweza workshops are designed to be interactive and engaging, with facilitators tasked with ensuring that knowledge is not only disseminated but accurately perceived and understood by the students. Facilitators use group discussion, interactive information sharing through question and answers, demonstration, experience sharing, and different kinds of energizers and ice-breakers throughout each session.   In this quarter Twaweza workshop included boys and girls in forms two and three, the age range of 14-20. Both boys and girls attended sessions where our facilitators delivered comprehensive education about menstrual, sexual, and reproductive health. The total number of students who participated in the workshop was 203 (105, 98M).

Community engagement in menstrual health management.

Community is our key target and for us to be able to get well connected and increase the understanding of what we do; involving the people such as schools administration, teachers, local government, and community leaders. In this quarter we managed to conduct different training regarding menstrual health management for community members. Our objective was to raise awareness among community members on menstrual health well-being, by addressing the inequalities in accessing menstrual products with the aim of achieving sustainable improvement in girls’ menstrual health. In this meeting, we managed to reach 259 (197F, 62M).

Project highlights

  • School dropouts has decreased among girls, and the excitement among girls feeling free when is school has been the best feedback we keep receiving
  • The involvement of boys and men in the subject has a great impact in bringing the awareness and reducing the shame and stigma around menstruation
  • Menstrual health is a human right 

Statement from High commissioner for human rights " Menstrual health is an integral part of sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is an important determinant for the realization of all human rights of women and girls in all their diversity, the achievement of gender equality, and the Sustainable Development Goals”

To reach these goals, it is critical that policymakers, practitioners, and other relevant actors adopt a comprehensive, multi-sectoral and full life cycle approach to menstrual health, grounded in human rights.

Let's test our knowldge: How does menstruation affect equality?

 Thank you once again for your immense support and love, till next time and happy kickoff to 2023!!!!

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Dear Supporters,


Here is our report for the month of April to June 2022. For a period of 4 months, we at Femme International have been able to carry out its activity effectively, especially in advocating for safe menstruation and sexual reproductive health for girls and boys for achieving equal access to quality education.

We are always grateful and appreciate your support and advocacy for Femme International. It is from support like yours we keep thriving and serving the community towards achieving the sustainable development goals!!!



Menstrual health is an important determinant and outcome of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Yet, until recently menstrual health has largely been overlooked by the international and local community. Studies have shown how several factors prevent girls and women and people who menstruate from accessing the right and adequate pieces of information, opportunities, services, and even resources.


Femme Internation through Twaweza program continues to provide an overview of the importance of Menstrual Health and Sexual Reproductive Health rights to girls and boys and this quarter we focussed on the following objectives:


  •  Deliver the Sexual Reproductive Health Right education focusing more on menstruation
  • Have a safe place with both boys and girls where they can talk freely about menstruation, sexual reproductive health issues, and relationship
  • To reach both boys and girls and puberty
  • GBV


We keep spreading the culture of building up a reliable platform where menstruators and the young generation of boys and girls can feel free to express their fear and  misconceptions, as well as challenging the community cultural setting to address stigma, taboo, and myth surrounding menstruation. This has slowly paved the way for accessibility and availability of menstrual health information and products to manage the period. We focussed on the 15-18 age group as these are the people affected so much by teenage pregnancy, peer pressure, and sexually transmitted diseases, and all of these are somehow caused or related to menstruation and lack of proper management of menstruation.


The mode of education was discussion in which both boys and girls were divided in groups to discuss menstruation and sexual reproductive health challenges in the community and schools, through the discussion, some questions were raised ie, is it wrong to accept favors from men especially when they are buying you a menstrual product or giving you money, what are the alternatives of managing menstruation for those girls who cant totally access menstrual products because they lack money to buy them and to avoid engaging in sex for pads and lastly if we are sisters and we have one menstrual cup why can't we share?


As we continue engaging boys and men in the conversation regarding menstrual health management, the reality is we still have a very long way to go to promote equality and quality education for all, because menstruation is costly and a cost that has never been brought to light. Investing in menstrual health is still a challenge following the cultural norms and social and economic status of the community.


Advocating for safe menstrual health and sexual gender-based violence in Schools through school clubs


Engaging students as part of the community to prevent violence against women and children is an essential part of the advocacy Femme carried throughout the quarter. Puberty and menstruation can be confusing times for adolescents, particularly if they have no one to speak to at home or at school about the changes they are experiencing, and challenging for girls in rural areas where stigma and social norms mean that this healthy biological process can restrict their daily activities and lead to isolation and abuse. As we continue in these school club sessions on MHM  we discovered for many of these young girls and boys this is the first time they’ve ever heard and been able to discuss openly their periods, sexual violence, and asking questions in regards to MHM and gender-based violence. In Kenya especially during this time of the political campaign, Girls and women are becoming venerable to GBV and especially rape, this is because all the state and non-state organs which should be acting towards protecting women and girls are concentrating on political campaigns, through school clubs we have been able to guide and talk to both girls and boys on ways to avoid and protect themselves through diplomats for health in the resilient community and changed Amani CBO


What happens if menstruation can not be managed properly could lead to high risks of infections or even worse accelerate to sexual violence as a result of some girls and women do not have access to menstrual products at all. It can also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing women and girls closer to dangerous coping mechanisms as such.


We are building, engaging, and a sustaining network of menstrual health players so that they are connected, informed, and thus well-equipped to engage in their daily lives.This quarter we reached out to Jamhuri Primary School and Kiusa Secondary school, located in Moshi, Kilimanjaro region.From Jamhuri primary school we have 84 students (43M, 41F) in 5th, 6th, and 7th classes,as well as in Kiusa secondary school we have 97 students (56M, 41F) all in the form one class and lastly, we reached to 40 out of school boys and girls in Kenya (25F, 15M). The most covered topic was period poverty and menstrual health management along with an emphasis on sexual gender-based violence against children and women and encouraging students to report violent acts without fear.


Commemoration of International Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD)

On Saturday, 28th May International Menstrual Hygiene Day hundreds of women, young, men, and boys flocked to the streets in Kilimanjaro matching for the emphasis on women's rights and the importance of  This is big to us as it stands a part of knowledge sharing, as we are driven to increase the collective awareness of menstruation and menstrual health and its core connection to female health, and stop at nothing to integrate it where we can.

Towards Menstrual Hygiene Day, Femme International in collaboration with other partners including the government stakeholders was able to provide education on safe menstruation in 9 primary and secondary schools also Jamuhuri and Kiusa primary schools were visited by facilitators from different organizations that offer education on menstrual health, therefore, it was an opportunity for them to learn more about menstruation from other experts.

Among other topics that came up during this quarter was the crime rate among teenagers, depression and mental health, and drug abuse.


  • Some women or girls who have experienced sexual violence may find it difficult to open up and beyond personal struggle, it might be socially and culturally challenging to discuss such topics as sexual gender-based violence


1. To increase the number of school clubs, especially in areas that have been shown to have many victims of sexual violence

2. Increasingly providing education on menstrual health and sexual violence to parents, teachers, and other people in the community

3. Human rights education should be provided to students, teachers, parents, and community members

Creating awareness on Menstruation and sexual reproductive health by reaching more school going and out of school girls and boys remains our passionate goal and with your continued support, we believe in an achievement.

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The first quarter of the 2022 is already done and we at Femme are ready than ever before to keep on thriving and breaking every single menstrual taboo insight! 

Sad reality is that, in these modern times of globalization there is still a struggle to offer a dignified menstrual life to every menstruators and the fundamental reason for this is because of the sheer shame and stigma attached to menstruation. The only way to tackle the negativity and myth surrounding menstruation and ending period parity, is by raising the voices through giving access to education and  access to sustainable menstrual products, playing open by normalizing and celebrating periods. Over the past decades Femme International has succeded to encourage those who are shy to talk openly, participate and celebrating menstruation as a normal biogical process of their bodies.  

The past two years the pandemic somehow forced many of us to lay low, however with your help we are very confident of being able to reach out and  encourage many other youngsters (males and females) to talk openly about periods, more male partners to be extra supportive of their female counterparts,non m,enstruators getting more involved and the society to allow menstruators of all ages to live a free and well dignified life.

Thank you for your endless support of our mission to break the menstrual stigma and taboo and to Access menstrual products in East Africa!! 

Femme Schools Club Program continuation

Access to adequate information on sexual reproductive health, menstruation and its management has been a great challenge which affecting menstruators and guardian/parents. To this day not many parents are comfortable talking about menstruation and reproductive health to their young boys and girls. The upcoming generation is the one that is thirsty for knowledge on Sexual reproductive health education and menstruation and that is why Femme continue working on changing this by making the conversation open and normal to all menstruators and non-menstruators and giving access to required education as this information is essential to all groups. The learning is not all about the information but also the use of inclusive language such as menstrual products instead of feminine hygiene/sanitary products, menstruators instead of women/girls when addressing issues related to menstruations.

To reach the upcoming generation, We believe schools club is an essential platform to create an open and free conversation without disregarding the other sex or group about Menstruation and Sexual Reproductive Health. When these young people i.e. boys and girls understands how their bodies works, then they are able to make safe and heathy decision for themselves in terms of safe relationships, sex, peer to peer education menstrual products choices, language and becoming menstruation and sexual health education ambassadors in their homes and communities. 


In Tanzania we have two schools, Kiusa Secondary School and Jamuhuri Secondary Schools; students (both boys and girls) did a peer to peer education where they explained to their peers on how beneficial  the club is and how it has helped them in learning things such as menstrual health education, personal hygiene education, Sexual Violence, Reproductive System for female and male which in so many communities is a taboo to mention. Through the school club program they felt comfortable and confident staying in school without having any fear especially during menstruation. We were able to reach 97 students at Kiusa Sec School; 55 females and 42 males  while in Jamhuri we reached 65 students; 40 females and 25 males which makes the total number of reached students to be 162 in both schools. The schools’ administration has also shown a great interest and recognized the importance of the program and we now have the full support of these schools. The program was introduced to 15 teachers,5 being male and 10 females as they had interest in learning more on these topics and stay as Femme ambassadors in teaching the other incoming new students.

In Kenya one primary school Mathare community Outreach participates in the school club program, the program included 55 students aged between 12-15 years, 35 being girls and 20 being boys. The education and discussion consisted of Female and male anatomy, adolescent age and changes of body, menstruation and why it is important to include boys in the menstrual education, healthy relationship between boys and girls, parents and children, personal hygiene, different menstrual products that exists and how to use and manage them,premenstrual syndrome management to avoid missing school and all fun activities and how boys can be involved in the change to end period parity.

Through these clubs we hope to reduce myths and stigma associated with menstruation and improve the overall well-being of these students. 

We are hoping going forward, if our resources and funds will allow; it is the great hope for Femme to be able to start distribution of the femme kits to the students as  They have shown a great need of menstrual and hygiene products, through talking to them some parents have expressed  being unable to afford buying the products every month and mostly in Kenya where for the past 6 months commodities prices has been rising rapidly.



In Kenya we also formed a partnership with Call for Africa on MHM workshop in Kahawa west. Need assessment was done with 38 girls and some of the feedback from need assessment were:

  • With the large number 94.7% stated that menstrual blood comes from vagina. This meant that they had knowledge on menstruation
  • 31.6% stated that it's normal to have irregular menstrual cycles as a teenager while 63.2% stated it's not normal and 5.2% didn't answer.
  • 76.5% stated that safe days is the  effective way of preventing pregnancy while 23.5% stated that it is not an effective way.
  • 51.4% stated that during their period their concentration at school worsened,40% stated their concentration was the same as usual and 8.6% their concentration was better.  
  • 44.4% stated that during their period  their confidence worsened,36.1% stated their confidence was the same and 19.4% their confidence was better.  
  • 50% feels like menstruation is a problem in your everyday life.16.7% sometimes is a problem while 33.3% is not a problem.


Total of 66 direct beneficiaries aged between 12-18 and 20 indirect beneficiaries (caregivers) aged between 25-45 participated in the MHM workshop. From the need assessment we understood that most girls had knowledge on menstruation so we opted for a discussion and question and answer as a way of teaching, The topics that we sensitized on were:  regular and irregular periods, safe days, PMS management, the importance of including and teaching boys about menstruation, Internal and external female reproductive system, UTI and the existing products to manage menstruation especially the sustainable ones, it was interesting since the caregivers learned from students and students also learned from caregivers.

It was unfortunate that Only the 60 direct beneficiaries received Femme Kits due to lack of more kits but promised to deliver to them Menstual cups alone since periods dont wait then deliver the rest once our situation is stable.


Commemoration of the International Women’s Day 

In the week of the Commemoration of the International Women’s day Femme international in collaboration with Rians in Mwanza region our new location; hosted a Women Gala conversation about menstrual health, family and economy and how a woman can play a huge role in all the three themes. It was another way of bringing women together and not only in a “We feeling” but in a sense of helping women to learn from each other and how to grow together. Femme International is more committed in working with different partners to ensure women’s welfare especially in menstrual health management are met.

As in Kilimanjaro region we joined hands with our partners; the local government and other 13 local organizations in commemoration of the international women’s day and Femme International had an honor to showcase our work and take place to going further celebrating women day and how important it is to talk about how completely menstruation is a normal biological process and needs to be acknowledged and accepted. Through a number of educational events, we aim to keep tackling the suppressions and discrimination attached to menstruation by breaking the silence trough making open conversation and breaking the taboos; while simultaneously spreading the awareness about sustainable menstruation.

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Practical education
Practical education


Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is very important to all people within the community, knowing how important the goals are  Femme International has been working hard towards decreasing the problems that are hindering girls and women in menstrual health management. Given the challenges of Covid 19, Femme International has extended her activities to boys, men and parents, to cover the gap seen during covid 19 due to lack of enough information about menstrual health.  As it was found in Subsaharan Africa parents, relatives and teachers are the main source of information for adolescents. However, the relatives and parents are not well informed and some of them are uncomfortable discussing puberty, reproduction and menstruation.  Following our experience in working with other regions in Tanzania, Femme has expanded her activities to a new location around the lake zone in Mwanza region, the program involves boys and girls, as the findings show there's a need for education on menstrual management and sexual health & reproductive rights. Not only that but also the menstruation and sexual health reproductive health right training program extended to teen mum as we focused to help mum and future generations that will be raised by those mums. Training has been conducted to students and the normal style of collecting data from students in school through questionnaires has been used in six months check-in. 


This quarter we focused on providing education to all students (boys and girls) and adults. In the Twaweza program in the Kilimanjaro region, about 60 (35F, 25M) students were taught about sexual reproductive health and menstruation, while in Mwanza about 215 (8OM, 135F) students were taught SRHR and menstruation. The training conducted in Mwanza gave Femme another eye on how to solve menstrual problems as many of the students’ boys and girls have little knowledge in SHRH and menstruation, hence more investment of time and money is needed to help the students in SRHR and menstruation issues. 

Not only that, but also in  Kenya, in this quarter Femme focused mostly on teenage mums who wish to go back to school and others to join courses like tailoring and hairdressing. We reached a total of 100 teenage mums to get access to education on menstruation and sexual reproductive health and mostly how their bodies work in terms of the menstrual cycle, safe days, and contraceptives. The important discussion that came from these workshops was for the teenage mums to love themselves, their bodies, and the children that they are now raising. We believe that the education and menstrual products provided to them will better their future and the future of their children, hence realizing the dream of reducing period poverty. 

Together with Kariobangi Social Justice Centre, we also created awareness on children’s rights and the role of the community and parents in giving the right information on menstruation and sexual reproductive health to both girls and boys, Our main goal in the event was to bridge the gap that still exists when it comes to Freedom and safety when talking about menstruation and sexual reproductive health education. We reached a total of 30 girls who all received washable pads, We believe that with the discussion we had, we help reduce teenage pregnancy as these girls now have the right information on menstruation and sexual reproductive health, where to seek help or treatment when needed and talk freely to their parents or guardians on the topic.

As we are still going through the Pandemic Phase, In Kenya, Femme International decided to collect data on individual beneficiaries that have gone through menstrual health workshops, the data is collected through M&E online form that the beneficiaries fill. This is to maintain a social distance but still keep in touch with the beneficiaries and gather information on how they have benefited from the implementation of the previous workshop, if there is a need to update our curriculum or to find out, if there is a need to provide more information, the collection of data is still in the process.

School Clubs

Adolescence is a time of many new things including puberty changes and the onset of menstruation for girls, which are all important subjects pupils and teachers/parents need to have a clear understanding of. Puberty comes with many changes especially to girls which if there is no adequate and right information in regards to the subject; leads to challenges such as early pregnancy and an increase of school dropouts. The School club session has become an open session for young women and boys to express their thoughts and have an opportunity to open up to some of the questions or conversations they might have been struggling to have with their peers or at home with caregivers. 

Talking about menstruation and SRHR helps to empower knowledge, gives guidelines and alleviates the anxiety for most young women and their caregivers/guardians. Femme International believes that every young woman should not feel ashamed to talk about their periods openly and have the right to have the knowledge and choice on what type of quality and sustainable products they should use whether i.e washable pads or menstrual cups. Managing menstruation in a hygienic manner is also an important point to emphasize. Through this program 615 (228M 387F)  beneficiaries (boys and girls) were reached in 8 schools (5primary 3secondary) in Kilimanjaro region. Again, thank you for your continued support helps us to grow during this difficult time of the pandemic, as we inspire to even reach a wide audience. 


Highlights of the project 

  • Attending digital safety training for women influencers and advocates helps us to think and come up with ideas on how we can influence the audience or become advocates of menstruation and sexual reproductive health through      digital devices without becoming victims of cyberbullying
  • Hoping to reach a wide audience both locally and internationally, we have started doing  short videos on menstruations that will be posted on our social media every month talking about different topics on menstruation and sexual reproductive health.
  • We have continued facilitating our workshops in schools, women community groups in both Tanzania and Kenya, with a hope of slowly extending the MHM conversation to  men audience and young boys to know the importance of menstrual health management and why period matters.
  • Hosting a workshop on MHM in collaboration with Songambele initiative has clearly made us realize as part of the Tanzania MHM Coalition women and girls with disabilities are often left behind on receiving such knowledge in regards to menstruation and sexual reproductive health.
  • All persons with disabilities have the right to be treated equally and to be included in the conversations. Women and girls with disabilities are currently under-represented in MHM programming and the interventions; therefore they have to be they have to be included in every stage of the intervention 
  • Keeping in collaboration with other stakeholders in advocacy and awareness on period poverty and false traditions/beliefs that surrounds menstruation.
Beneficiary received washable pads
Beneficiary received washable pads
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School Club in Session
School Club in Session

Menstrual Health Management education continues to be our priority here in East Africa. The pandemic largely affected, and continues to affect tourism, the source of livelihood for many communities in Kilimanjaro and Arusha, where our headquarters are based! This has consequently impaired other mutually beneficial sectors like agriculture, transport, and many have lost their purchasing power. In Kenya, our Mathare Slum home base also suffers pandemic losses. Women living there survived mainly through various house/home management jobs which are now restricted due to Covid-19 regulations and fears. Many are left home earning little to no income. Overall, the pandemic continues to exacerbate the economic circumstance of many parents, guardians or financial providers who must not only cater to their children's basic needs, pads included!

Our work has been even more trying in the pandemic times; we had to learn to pivot (Did you know we now have a social enterprise - Twende is currently being Piloted in Tanzania), and mainly just try to sustain our mental health (S.O.S!) in this past years’ global shift. However, Periods don’t stop for pandemics, and neither will we!. Our teams across Kenya and Tanzania continue working tirelessly to provide even more access for better menstrual health education and distributing high-quality menstrual products to our beneficiaries. This quarter, we worked with students in secondary and primary schools, out-of-school girls, young and teen mothers, women, and even more men!

Your support motivates and continues to help us grow and reach even more beneficiaries, thank you! Here is what we have been up to!


This past quarter we reached 240 girls from 2 regions in Tanzania and 350 women and girls in Kenya. This makes a total of 590 women and girls who benefitted from access to menstrual health information and reusable menstrual products. In addition, we were able to train 36 teachers from two schools in the Kilimanjaro region who will continue supporting students in their schools with adequate information, increasing our overall impact. 

Femme International collects baseline data on key indicators before project implementation. The baseline exercise was conducted with240 students in the Kilimanjaro region from two secondary schools with 210 students and one primary school in Arusha with 30 pupils. In Kenya, we conducted 9 need assessments with a total of 100 girls aged between 11-17 and 50 women aged between 26-45

Our Data showed that Out of all 210 girls and women  in Tanzania 66% have little knowledge of menstrual health, while 44% have not enough information about menstrual management; 25% thought it was an injury, 19% thought it was a curse

  • Out of 350 girls and women in Kenya, 76.9% stated that they have clean washroom facilities at schools to change their products but the facilities have no bins to dispose of menstrual products; and the facilities have limited privacy.
  • Access to medical facilities was a challenge because of the reduced movement during lockdown and fear especially for something not considered a life-threat or illness; PERIOD PAIN. 

The baseline has been used as a road map in workshops training the students, as the facilitator will know where to put emphasis when teaching, the students/pupils and have a preliminary understanding also which product suits them better. 


School clubs

Sexual health, reproductive rights, and menstruation is the most important subject that students/pupils need to have a clear understanding of before and during puberty period. Recently and especially at the time of Covid 19 lockdown, teenage pregnancy has increased in most of the regions in Tanzania and Kenya with Nairobi, Kilifi, and Kakamega topping up in the list, teenage pregnant girls aged 15-19years the reasons that lead to an increase of the problem is the lack of access to education and knowledge on SRHE from the guardians or parents, as most of them do not spend time talking about the subject openly and most girls and boys shy away from talking about the issue. Femme International has started the school club program where the students have free space to ask questions about sexual reproductive health and menstruation in general. Through this program, 350 beneficiaries from two schools were reached, 200 girls and women  (89M, 121F) and 150 pupils (71M, 79F).  

From the school clubs program, the facilitators gathered information based on question and answer, one on one sessions that included the students using family planning methods without enough information, and in Kenya, the most used method was emergency pill (P2). Most of them only fear getting pregnant and not sexually transmitted diseases as they have very little knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases. 


Highlights of the project 

  • We have continued facilitating our workshops in schools and women community groups in both Kenya and Tanzania, in Kenya, we concentrate on guardians, parents, and out-of-school girls.
  • Working with Disability group known as Wote kwa Wote in Dandora slum of  Nairobi that we look forward to expanding in other slums and counties in Kenya, we have a discussion of starting a sustainable menstrual products campaign for women and girls with disabilities in Nairobi
  • Collaborating with other organizations in education and awareness on Menstrual Health Management 
  • Parents, teachers, and community leaders are keen to know how they can benefit from Menstrual Health Management education directly. During the community reach out there been questions asked like how would 

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Organization Information

Femme International

Location: Kilimanjaro, Moshi - Tanzania, United Republic of
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FemmeInt
Project Leader:
Florence Akara
Moshi, Kilimanjaro Tanzania, United Republic of
$24,984 raised of $120,000 goal
287 donations
$95,016 to go
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