Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Menstrual Pads For The Girls

Before leaving for Uganda this summer, I sent an email out to Lunapads and Goods 4 Girls asking for their support in donating a few pads for the girls we work with in Uganda. My request for a few pads was more than responded to as both Lunapads AND Goods 4 Girls sent us over with hundreds of pads for the girls we support! We were thrilled to be able to bring such a large supply to Uganda!

So many girls in Uganda face challenges every month due to a lack of supplies, sanitation facilities and money. All of the girls we support are orphans and have experienced such a great deal of poverty and loss already in life. Many of them miss classes and end up feeling disconnected from their bodies. The girls use old rags which can not be attached properly – this means that they avoid any movement which might cause the rag to fall out of their skirts. They can not be washed properly and easily soak through into the clothing they are wearing. These pads were life changing for them! There were tears, questions, clapping, singing and dancing – but most of all, the girls were happy to have a ‘girls only’ meeting. For the first time ever, the younger girls actually wanted their period to come so that they could receive a kit as well. We made sure to give the matrons (the women who take on the role of mother for all of the girls and sleep with them at night) at both schools a kit as well – they were also in tears after experiencing a lifetime of difficulty surrounding their period!

The kits were taken to two very different schools. It was beautiful to watch the various responses the girls had to the pads. We took the pads from Lunapads to the girls at one of the local highschools in Luweero. It is a catholic school and we came during a rain storm. We gathered all of the girls we could find (most of them leave with the rain) and brought them into a dry room. They were shy and reserved while talking about the pads (something that is not often discussed at their school), but their eyes began to twinkle when they came to understand that they could keep these pads forever! They voted one girl to take the extra pads for the girls who were not present that day and show them what they had learned about washing and drying them. It was such a wonderful experience to watch these girls slowly unfold, become comfortable talking about their own bodies and finally hold a gift in their hands that was brand new and their own .

We brought over 50 kits (with 5 pads in each kit) to the primary school we support in Entebbe. It took a while to gather all of the girls and the matron into one room -the boys tried to get in, but the girls let them know that it was ‘girls only’. They were quick to offer up the multiple reasons why they ‘didn’t like having their period’. So different from the first school, there was a short silence as the girls tried to process exactly what ‘reusable’ meant, but as soon as it was understood, they were yelling and singing and clapping. The matron began a speech, but ended up in tears as she tried to explain what a difference these pads would make. Later, I stumbled into the girls room to find them practising attaching the pads to their underwear and coming up with a washing and drying plan that wouldn’t let the boys run off with their new gifts!





1 comment:

Helen said...

I found this blog via the lunapads site. how wonderful and moving. it must have been a wonderful experience to make such a difference in the lives of these girls!most of us in the western world cannot imagine having such a problem as not being able to go to school because we dont have a reliable way to cope with our period. For us it is simply a nuisance. It is so interesting to read about the long reaching effects that something as "simple"as adequate resources to deal with menstruation will have. Keep up the great work :-)