Menstrual Hygiene Management in Ntungamo secondary schools

On 28 May 2016, we launched a Menstrual Hygiene Management program (MHM)  in Ntungamo district SW Uganda  with a view to ensuring that women and girls manage their monthly period in a hygienic way. This involves ensuring that girls and women have access to information about menstruation as well as access to clean and safe menstrual absorbents.

As part of the access to information aspect of  the program, our Program Manager and MHM ambassadors  visited 12 secondary schools within Ntungamo district  SW Uganda over a course of 4 weeks. The team spoke with 1175 girls in all as well as some of their female teachers. Their findings are summarised below

Ntungamo

On average:

  • 53% of the girls didn’t know what menstruation was before they experienced it
  • 61% of the girls have felt ashamed or embarrassed due to their periods
  • 42% of the girls miss days of school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products
  • They miss 2.6 days of school a month which impacts negatively in their performance.
    Students change their sanitary products every 9 hours.

Ntungamo

Our team looked into how girls in Ntungamo secondary schools manage their periods and how they access to menstrual hygiene absorbents, and these are their findings;

  • 48% of the students feel bad or very bad during their MPs
  • 73% of the students use reusable pads but on average they change them every 9 hours which is not hygienic or healthy
  • 13% of the students use reusable sanitary pads at school and a cloth at home
  • 9.1% of the students use a cloth
  • 4.4% of the students use leaves, mattress stuffing, toilet paper or nothing at all.

These findings are challenging to say the least.  We cannot allow this situation to persist as it has direct implications for poverty.

We want to offer these girls  a hygienic and sustainable  way to manage their periods. We also want to ensure that girls do not miss school days  because of a lack of access to menstrual absorbents.  We however cannot do this without your help  and you can make a difference for as a little as £1.

  • £1 provides a girl one pod that include a napkin and a holder
  • £5 provides a girl a full kit
  • £10 provides two full kits
  • £20 provides 4 full kits

The pod and kits last for three years making this a cost effective way of managing periods. Please donate to our Sanitary Pads 4 Girls program today via our Virgin Money page

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/sanitarypads4girls

You can also donate via our paypal account


The goats are here

After weeks of preparation the goats finally arrived.

goats

Keeping them on the truck was not an easy task

Widows waiting for their goats
Widows waiting for their goats. Some of the widows are so elderly, they sent their sons to represent them.

 

deworming
deworming

Before distribution all goats had to be tagged, deworm them, provide a preventative antibiotic treatment to ensure their adjustment to the new area and environment goes smoothly and trim their hoofs.

goat

This is Lydia from Nyamuhani.  Lydia is one of the widows that received a goat from the goat loan project. She is also one of the people looking after one of the bucks for the goat breeding program. Her female goat is mature enough and she was encouraged to keep her together with the male for a couple of days… We may have our first kid on the way pretty soon.

 

Maria
This is Maria from Migorora. Her daughter died right after delivering her baby girl so Maria used goat’s milk to feed her for almost a year. She’s now a beautiful young lady. Maria is the program’s strongest ambassador for this reason.

 

Jovanis

Jovannis is from Kakiizi. She’s got experience raising goats and currently has 2 female goats that she’s hoping they get on heat soon so she can take them to Alejandro one of the  pure breed male our project manager is hosting

Kalanzi from Joy goat

Kalanzi, the JOY goat development trainer, has taught Osbert how to handle the goats for the different treatments – especially hoof trimming and injecting them.

 

follow up training session

Following the goat distribution, there was further training about the care of goats as well as record keeping, in particular how often the goats mate as well as proper feeding.

Keep an eye on this space for updates

 

 

Diary Goat Crossbreeding Program

It has been exciting day in Ruhanga. The goats arrived.

goat
Widows waiting to receive a goat

As well as the goat loan project for widows, we have a dairy goat crossbreeding program. This program will enable owners of local goats in Itojo Sub-County to crossbreed them with purse breeds to produce 50% diary goats which ensure owners can access milk..

goats

This is Ronaldo. he is a 9 months old Saanen  and he will spend the next year and half in the village Kytinda mating goats from Kytinda and Rwentojo

goat
Force

This is Force. He is a 10 month old Toggenburgh. He will spend 18 months in Nyamiko and will mate with goats in Nyamiko, Kibingo and Rwemihanga.

goat
Alejandro

Alejandro is a 10 month Alpine buck.  He will be looked after by Os the program manager and will mate with goats in Migorora, Nyamuhani, Ruhanga and Kakiizi

goats
crossbred females

These are some of the 50% females that were distributed to the widows.

goats

The goats had to dewormed and tagged and treated for stress due to change of environment

goats

The program manager will visit each goat tomorrow and provide a multivitamin shot to ensure proper transition to the new area.

We will provide further updates in the next few days. Keep an eye on this space..

 

Sewing classes : End of term one

It is end of term at the Skills development initiative. The girls  Not in Education, Employment or Training are learning about fashion design and how to sew. At the end of term, the results are amazing

sewing
Maria and the girls

As part of their assignment during term one. The girls are pictured here in the skirts they’ve made this term. According to Maria, the girls  are so happy and proud of their achievements.

sewing
Makline and the girls

Makline the teacher, deserves credit for taking the girls from zero sewing skills to where they are now. New friendships have been formed and the girls have grown in confidence

sewing class

Credit to these girls for taking up this opportunity to learn a new skill. At the end of the course, they will have a choice to either start their own enterprise or work for someone else using the skills they have learned.

We would like to offer this opportunity to many more such girls in Itojo Sub-county. You can support our efforts by making a donation to our fundraising at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/skills4girls

 

Goat project- Training gets underway

The Diary goat project has kicked off in earnest. This week a trainer from Joy Goat Development arrived to provide training to the widows as well as those in the community who will benefit from the crossbreeding program.

goat
Kalenzi- Inspecting a goat shelter

Kalanzi Med, from JOY Goat Development, assessing the buck stations and providing guidance on how to build the feeding platform

Osbert -LTHT Project Manager and Joy Goat expert visiting Maria’s buck station. There is still a bit of work to do on her female goat house but now she’s got the knowledge how to finalise it properly

Osbert

LTHT Project Manager explaining attendees about the type of fodder suitable to grow in our area which they can feed to their goats

Buck -keepers

Buck keeper training session – These guys are the role models of the cross breeding program. They will be responsible to keep our males healthy and active, identifying suitability of goats for mating and are empowered to turn down mating partners if they’re too young, too small or not healthy. 

Buck-keepers photo op

Buck keepers group photo in front of LTHT buck station + male kid collection pen.

In the next village, it was mostly women who turned up for training

Widows' training session

These are the widows who are signed up to the goat project. They will receive a a female halfbreed kid to look after until it gives birth. The grown goat becomes the widow’s personal property and the kids are then passed on to another widow in the group

buck station

We anticipate that some of the kids will be male and this is where they will be looked after

Keep an eye on this space and  our Facebook page for updates

Send a chicken : We have eggs

If you have been following our progress on the Send A Chicken to an African Woman , you will be pleased to hear that we finally have eggs, 750 and counting.

It has not been easy getting here. Our Program Managers will share lessons learned in due course but one of the challenges we encountered was the fact that,  some of the chicks turned out to be cocks. This reduced the number of eggs the women can expect.

2016-07-01 11.41.03-1Betice is the lady with most eggs so far, 75! She still has one cock with the hens but it seems he’s encouraging the ladies to lay consistently. She and her family are extremely excited.

2016-07-01 11.41.03-2Jane’s hens have just completed their first tray (30 eggs). Jane is one of the 9 ladies who still have 10 hens and she’s foreseeing a brighter future now that they’re all laying

2016-07-01 11.41.03-3

Caroline is the only group member who opted for a free range system once the feed LTHT provided finished. She has 9 hens and so far they have laid 20 eggs.

2016-07-01 11.41.02Sylvia has 7 hens (2 cocks and 1 died). She’s got so far 18 eggs – in the picture only 13 – but the next day she got 5 eggs so she’s really happy that her hens even they are few they’re consistently laying.

I hope you can agree with me when I say that our Program Managers have done a fantastic job, in mobilising the women, training and getting them to this position.

The women have an opportunity to generate income from the sell of eggs and hopefully save enough money to restart the program without further intervention form LTHT

 

Not in Education or Employment -NEETS

In 2014 nearly 69% of Uganda’s population was under years of age, and this has implications for unemployment and poverty amongst young people. The Uganda’s National Bureau of statics (UBOS) reports that amongst 18-30 year olds 57% are self employed, 24% work for some one, of those in employment 63% work in agriculture, 29% in the service industry whilst 8% are in manufacturing.

In addition, that unemployment amongst the youth in Kampala, Uganda’s capital stands at 15% and is three times higher than the national average and at least 14.1 Million young people in rural areas are unemployed due to lack of skills.

The situation in Ntungamo district where Itojo Sub County is located, is that 85% of the population is aged between 15-30 years and the incidence of unemployment amongst this age group is 90%. The young people from Itojo Sub County suffer from under employed mainly due to lack of skills. Amongst these youth are young girls not in education or employment.

NEETS
2016 participants

NEETS

Over the next two years of these girls will benefit from our Skills Development Initiative and in particular, the Free sewing lessons for girls not in education or employment. This is an annual course to enable girls to learn the basics of sewing and fashion design. The main objective is to give these girls an opportunity to gain skills that they can use to create their own employment or work for someone else and get a salary.

The reason we focus on girls is because we believe that the, lack income contributes to rural to urban migration and consequently to cross border migration for women and girls without skills the outcomes can be tragic as reported in several Ugandan papers earlier this year.

If you would like to keep up with the progress of the girls, please sign up to our Newsletter or like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LetThemHelpthemselves/

 

The dairy goat project for widows

In 2015 we set out on a journey to establish types of interventions that improve the livelihoods of girls and women from rural villages in Itojo Sub-County, where Ruhanga parish is located.

As part of that strategy we have worked with  a local women’s group KAMINYA TUKORE to set up 29 Micro poultry farms under the SEND  A CHICKEN TO AN AFRICAN WOMAN program.

In our next intervention, we revisited an issue we had been working on since 2014- Menstrual Hygiene Management.  Our objective under this program is to ensure that girls and women manage their periods in a hygienic way. This involves ensuring that girls and women have access to information about menstruation as well as access to clean and safe menstrual absorbents.

This program also provides employment for three local young women. It is our ambition to ensure that this program is accessible to girls and women across the district of Ntungamo

Widows and the goat loan project

goat loan project
Widows from Ruhanga with Goat Program Manager Os Nyesiga

Under this project we are working in collaboration with the NGO Joy Goat Development, to introduce a new breed of dairy goats into Ruhanga parish. The main beneficiaries of this program are widows, who will receive a 50% cross breed female dairy goat as a loan. They will be responsible to care for the goat until it produces the first kid.

Once the first births are weaned, the off springs will be returned to LTHT and the women at that point will be given sole ownership over the initial goat. This goat will then become an asset that the woman can use to generate income, support herself and her family through;

  • continuous sale of the goat’s offspring,
  • sale of goat’s milk
  • or improve the nutritional intake of their family if they opt for personal consumption.

Once the kids have been returned to LTHT, the female goats will be given to the next widow, while the male goats will be sold, using the profits to purchase more female goats so the cycle continues even if on-going sponsorship is unavailable.

Crossbreed program

On top of that, the whole community will also benefit from this program via a cross breeding program. .

goat
Toggenburg buck

Local female goats will mate with pure male dairy goats with a view to creating  off-springs that can produce a meaningful amount of milk. This will improve  the community’s nutritional intake radically.

We will spend the next few weeks getting the community ready for this program before the goats arrive, Keep an eye on this space for updates.

Menstrual Hygiene Management program is launched

The aim of our Menstrual Hygiene Management program is to ensure that girls and women manage their monthly period in a hygienic way. This involves ensuring that girls and women have access to information about menstruation as well as access to clean and safe menstrual absorbents.

 

Menstrual Hygiene
Letricia, Maria, Agnes and Allen setting off for Kampala

Following the set up of the sewing room in Ruhanga our menstrual hygiene ambassadors set off for Kampala for a  two week residential course

menstrual hygiene management
Gerald Karuhanga, MP for Ntungamo Municipality and Ida Horner, LTHT Chairperson discussing with Diana Nampeera, Days for Girls country director the effectiveness of the washable sanitary pads]

I arrived in Kampala two weeks later  just in time for their graduation.

Menstrual hygiene
Agnes receives her certificate from MP Gerald Karuhanga

Our 17 year old Agnes was top of the class.

menstruation day
Graduation day

The graduation was also attended by Gerald Karuhanga MP for Ntungamo district  where our ambassadors hail from. In his speech,  Karuhanga said that menstrual hygiene  is an issue that is very close to his heart and promised to prioritise it during his 5 year term as an MP. He further promised to lobby government to remove import duty on fabrics used to make sanitary towels

International Menstruation Day

Menstrual Hygiene
Menstrual Hygiene Day launch

May 28 was  Intenational Menstrual Hygiene Day and official launch our Menstrual Hygiene program across  Ntungamo District. The event was attended by at least 160 including officers from the district as well as the municipality.

Menstrual Hygiene Day
Mp Gerald Karuhanga launches LTHT’s Menstrual Hygiene program

The initiative was launched by Karuhanga MP for Ntungamo who promised to work with LTHT to ensure the success of the program across the district

Menstrual Hgyiene
Student from TEAM College shares her experience

 

In February this year thirty nine girls from heard TEAM College received free sanitary packs as part of our trial.  We heard from the girls and their Head Teacher on 28 May.  They told us the pads had changed their lives whilst their Head Teacher reported reduced absenteeism.

May 28 Menstruation day
Graduation Day

We heard about the Menstrual Hygiene Ambassadors’ experience at the residential course in Kampala, which included participants from Kenya and Ghana and they too shared their experiences. We heard about gruesome practices such as girls being sewn up during their periods, not being allowed to milk cows and digging holes in the ground and using these as a means for managing periods etc

Where are the men in the conversation

 

Menstruation matters
Men at launch day

As the event progressed it transpired that, hotel security  were excluding men from the event on the assumption that this was a women only event. One of the men took exception to this and complained to us. He said

we are the ones that make decisions in the home and you are excluding us  from the  meeting

He had a point. A point that to goes to explain why in 2016 we still need an International  Menstrual Hygiene Day. The fight for access to Menstrual Hygiene and sanitation should include men. We learned from our research that some of fathers believe that spending money on Menstrual Hygiene Management is a waste of money and that boys have a tendency to embarrass and shame girls during their periods

The Hard Work begins here

Allen and Agnes working on sanitary pad kits
Allen and Agnes working on sanitary pad kits

Now that the training is out of the way, work on producing sanitary towel kits for sell has started. And here are some of the completed products. I hope you are agree with me, when I say, they have done a fab job.

Menstrual hygiene
Finished wings

Can you help?

We have come a long way with this project and have set ourselves an ambitious goal of ensuring that every girl and woman in Ntungamo district can access sanitary pads at a reasonable cost.

Please consider supporting our efforts by making  a donation via our VIRGIN PAGE

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/sanitarypads4girls

Date for your diary- 28 May is International Menstrual Day 2016

A week before celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day 2016, three young women from Itojo sub-county graduated from the Days for Girls University, a 2-week residential course to learn how to make washable sanitary pads and soap, become women’s reproductive health ambassadors and understand the basics to run an enterprise.

 

International Menstruation Day
Allen, Letricia and Agnes with their Days for Girls certificates

Gerald Karuhanga, the MP for Ntungamo Municipality who fully supports the exemption of taxes in women’s sanitary products, attended the graduation ceremony at the Days for Girls centre in Kamwokya, Kampala.

He would like to see a considerable reduction on girls ‘ school dropouts due to a lack of access to an affordable and sustainable alternative to reusable sanitary pads and would like Uganda to be an example to other African countries in their quest to provide girls and women tax-exempt sanitary products. o ignored

menstrual hygiene management
Gerald Karuhanga, MP for Ntungamo Municipality and Ida Horner, LTHT Chairperson discussing with Diana Nampeera, Days for Girls country director the effectiveness of the washable sanitary pads]

Let Them Help Themselves (LTHT), a UK based NGO which has recently opened a branch to operate in Uganda, has sponsored these three young ladies to attend the course and start up an enterprise to make washable sanitary pads in Ruhanga, Ntungamo.

LTHT is hosting an event at Jerusalem Tree Cottages in Ntungamo town next Saturday, May 28 coinciding with International Menstruation Day to bring together local politicians lead by Hon. Gerald Karahunga, men and women from all walks of life to talk about menstruation and the challenges girls and women face every month due to poor menstrual hygiene management infrastructure and lack of access to affordable sanitary products.

It will also be a great opportunity for the three graduates to introduce the washable sanitary pads to the community and promote women’s reproductive health among the attendees.

 

periods
An example of the products included in the DfG kit: a shield and two liners

LTHT is hoping the event will be the trigger of a long journey to end with the existing taboo about periods and reproductive health in the rural areas of Western Uganda.

If you would like to keep updated on this initiate or learn about other LTHT projects, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

About the author: Maria Alvarellos is a Program Manager at LTHT and can be contacted via Twitter  @malvadri

 

 

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