It’s once again a pleasure to update you on the progress of our project. I last submitted on January 2014 to you our report titled ' A girls freedom to go to school' in which we targeted 3 primary schools in rural Nyamira county where we provided training to 20 adolescent girls on sexual maturity and personal hygiene, on top of which we provided the entire adolescent girls in the schools with 4 packets of sanitary towels that are enough to last them each for 4 consecutive months. The sanitary towels we distributed are still in use and have tremendously increased the attendance of girls in these schools, the schools have recorded on average 44% increase in attendance and retention among adolescent girls experiencing menstruation period. Your help has made it easy and provided freedom for these girls to attend school during their menstruation cycle. Girls who were initially stigmatized, full of shame and used leaves, sand and worn clothes as their sanitary pads can now use safe sanitary towels, freely go to school every day without shame. The girls are a happy lot.
For these past three months we have continued training the girls from the 3 schools we are targeting on sexual maturity and hygiene sanitation. These schools in rural areas are Kiangoso, Kebobora and Nyangorora primary schools. In Kenya especially in rural areas, tradition, culture mixed with extreme male chauvinism has been hindering women empowerment right from childhood where girls are not allowed to attend primary education and if they do they are not guaranteed to pursue higher learning such as high schools and colleges. For a longtime the mindsets of the rural community in Kenya has been fixed on girls in their adolescent to get married and raise families. Through other projects by our organization we have been implementing women empowerment programs, behavior change towards extreme culture and perception and awareness programs all aimed at creating a culture where their is an equal and fair opportunity for both gender and women.
During the month of February we did follow up on the use of the sanitary towels, we did this by conducting a session with girls in the three schools, where we met with the girls and got their feedbacks on the use of the sanitary towels, we also trained those who were beginning to experience the menstruation cycle on the proper use as well as providing them with new towels. It was a great experience because we were able to learn from the girls of the challenges they are experiencing, for instance we noted that there were a number of girls who were sharing their towels with others at home, we also noted that most of the girls after using the towels would reuse the towels again just to ensure that their provision lasts longer. In the meeting we strongly advised the girls against sharing the towels and also reusing them, we made it clear that the sharing and reusing of towels would lead to infections and diseases, the girls were to use the available sanitary for their own use and not with other girls, instead we advised them to encourage the other girls to enroll to the schools that we provide sanitary towels so that they too can receive.
In March, we conducted meetings with the girls and we were happy that more adolescent girls who had dropped out of school were enrolling back to school again, the sanitary towels was encouraging girls who were desperate and shameful to turn back to school, we always remain with extra sanitary towels to distribute to new girls as they come back to school.
“My sister came home with new sanitary pads and told me she had been given in school for free, i decided that i will go back to school so that i can be given too, now am back to school and have been getting them for the last 3 months, am so grateful for the people who have given me this towels”, Zainab a 13 year old primary school girl.
"I dropped out of school to help my mother with farm work and home chores, the real reason i dropped though was that i felt ashamed every time i experienced my menstruation cycle, and could not stand the guilt and laughter from boys in our school, i was also affected as i could not learn well as others. But when i was told by a classmate that they were being given sanitary pads i came back. Thank you very much for giving me the sanitary pads”, Sheila is a 14 year old primary school girl. If Sheila hadn't dropped out she would have done her national examinations and joined high school, thanks to you she is doing her national examination end of this year.
The sanitary pads we distributed are coming to due this month and with your help we will get them others to last them the next four months till August and also train them on sexual maturity and personal hygiene. We would like to extend our services to provision of undergarments and shoes to these girls as most of them lack them and are having difficulty using the new sanitary towels. We thank you for your esteemed support! .Till next time, bye.