Menstrual Hygiene at Itojo Central Primary School

Our first campaigns to improve menstrual hygiene in Ntungamo district focused on secondary schools in the district.  We were subsequently informed that we ought to focus on primary schools as the need is greater amongst that age group.

Menstrual Hygiene
Thank you note to Northampton High School charity collection

Our menstrual hygiene ambassadors, therefore, visited one Itojo Central Primary school and heard directly from year seven girls and their teacher.  The situation here was indeed as bad as we had been told. 

Menstrual Hygiene Ambassador – Ronas at Itojo Central Primary School

Most girls did not have access to hygienic absorbents during their periods and amongst the things they used were, old clothes, rags, banana fibres, leaves, cotton, feathers etc.  some amongst the girls, missed school during their periods whilst those who had access to disposal sanitary pads didn’t change them often.

Disposal sanitary towels are expensive to buy and as such most parents encourage their daughters to ensure that one towel lasts 7-9 hours.  Inevitability this leads to infections and several of the girls in year seven that use disposal sanitary towels, reported various infections. 

Menstrual Hygiene in Uganda
Year 7- Itojo Primary school

The girls were given a reusable menstrual hygiene kit made at our workshop in Itojo sub-county. The kit has two liners and 8 napkins and if used correctly, it lasts three years. The kit comes with a backpack that enables girls to carry their pads discreetly. 

Menstrual hygiene
Class teacher and Year 7 girls at Itojo Primary school

Itojo Primary School is one of many schools in the sub-county that do not provide hygienic products for managing periods. The consequences of this, are that a large number of girls drop of school for something that costs as little as £5  and lasts three years. 

The lack of access to menstrual hygiene management may mean that nation-states will achieve the following Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12.

Our fight to enable women and girls to access information on menstruation and hygienic absorbents continues and you can be part of it by making a donation to our campaign at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/sanitarypads4girls

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.

Managing Menstrual Hygiene in Ruhanga- setting up the sewing room

Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health, yet in many cultures it is treated as something negative, shameful or dirty. The continued silence around menstruation combined with limited access to information at home and in schools results in millions of women and girls having very little knowledge about what is happening to their bodies when they menstruate and how to deal with it (source: developmentbookshelf.com)

This statement is true of girls in Ruhanga. We are working to change this and our journey starts here.

Menstrual Hygiene Management
The sewing room

This is our new sewing room that will serve as a training room as well as centre of operations.

Menstrual Hygiene Management

The local machinist tweaks the sewing machines before the girls are let loose on them. This type of a machine is known as a locker and here the machinist sets it up to ensure that it works and that it is threaded correctly.

 

Menstrual Hygiene Management
Waiting for interviews

With the sewing room set up, an advert went out to invite girls not in education or employment to attend an assessment day.

From left to right: Allen, Marion and Apophia -
From left to right: Allen, Marion and Apophia –

These are three of teenage girls that were selected to become ambassadors of our menstrual hygiene program. They will be put through an intensive training program including a a two week residential course in Kampala.

 

With no time to waste, work got under way and here the girls are practising their sanitary pads making skills
Menstrual Hygiene Management

Agnes cutting out pattens

 

Menstrual Hygiene Management
Letricia and Agnes

Team work- Letricia and Agnes threading the finishing machine

 

Menstrual Hygiene Management
Letricia

Letricia was a late addition to the team. She has caught up. This is the first liner she made independently.

 

Finance lesson

As well learning how to make sanitary pads, the girls are learning about managing money. These skills will be essential to the sustainability of the project. More about this in future posts

Jenn Dutton
Jenn Dutton

This journey has been made possible by Jenn who run the London Marathon in aid of Menstrual Hygiene Management. The money she raised has gone towards the setting up of the sewing room.  Jenn completed the London Marathon in 5 Hours 6 minutes. You can still contribute to Jenn’s campaign  at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JenniferDutton1

 

Menstrual Hygiene Management
Greetings to Jenn

 

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