Sewing lessons year 2

A year ago we set up a sewing room with a view to  address the lack of skills amongst girls in Ntungamo District in SW Uganda. Our focus would be on girls aged between 17- 25  Not in Education, Employment or Training, the so called NEETS. 

We set up a sewing room and invited girls from the village to come hang out with us, The results were amazing  

 

End of term- the girls are wearing the dress they made as part of their exams

The first round of girls completed  their training last month and are now employed on our Menstrual Hygiene program

 

Last month, we invited a new set of girls to join the program. It was heartening to see parents turn up with their girls. We  were surprised by how young this group of girls are. 

This is Abias and Catherine and they are  16 and 15. Both are being raised by single mothers and did not finish their primary school education. 

 

This is 15 year old Olivious and 17 year old Marion. They both completed Primary school but were unable to continue in further education due to lack of school fees. 

sewing

The girls have hit the ground running and their first task to to find their way around a sewing machine. 

78% of Uganda’s population is under 30 years of age and sadly  the incidence of unemployment amongst this age group  is high. This has implications for poverty levels amongst the youth and some of the reasons for this are due to a lack of skills. 

Our skills program for NEETS seeks to mitigate both poverty and unemployment amongst girls in Itojo sub-county. We currently do not have space to offer a wide range of skills and can only take in 15 girls a year on our sewing program.  We would like to change this by scaling the program and you can help us by making a donation at our Virgin Page

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/skills4girls

 

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017

28 May 2017 is  Menstrual Hygiene Day  and we will be hosting a conversation about periods in conjunction with Ntungamo Municipality 

We bring together men and women, girls and boys as well as their politicians from the district of Ntungamo SW Uganda.

This year’s theme is Education.

We will explore the impact of Menstural hygiene on a girl’s education.

We will discuss the need to educate boys and men about periods in order to minimise the impact of social norms on women and girls

Our goal is to normalise the conversation about periods and continue the work we started last year. 

At this year’s event we would like to give out 1000 kits to school girls.  This would 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 includes 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

 A Word from Syson- LTHT Menstrual Hygiene Ambassador 

 

You can also donate via PayPal



https://youtu.be/1neNW3flWYk

Goat Project : updates and news

It has been while since our last updates on the goat project. I reported that we had, had our very first baby goats and I am back with even more news.

 

 

 

New Kids on the block : As you will see from the photos above, we now have 7 kids (3 females & 4 males)  as the goats started delivering in December. The icing on the cake thus far, is the birth last month of female twin kids by Maria’s goat.   We do need more female kids as these are the ones we pass on to widows waiting in the queue for a goat of their own. The new round of distribution will be in July when the new borns  are six months old. The selected widows have started work on goat shelters. 

 

Milk production:  Most of the women whose goats have delivered have access to at least 1 pint of milk every day. But some  are not milking their goats at all such as Merida whose goat gave birth during the dry season and Maria whose goat had twins.  

Crossbreeding program 

goat
Alejandro

The other part of our program is crossbreeding. Through this program, everyone in the district is able to crossbreed their local goats with the three 100% pure diary bucks. The aim of this program is to create a new breed of goats. 

The bucks have been busy,

  • Alejandro has four offsprings (3 females and 1 male) and mated 3 new females in February.  The community is super impressed with the offsprings  and have started spreading the word about the program in the nearby villages of  Migorora, Kakiizi and Nyamuhani.
  • Force has mated 2 females so far and  has  2 offsprings which are males. 
  • Ronaldo has mated 2 females so far and has 1 offspring which is a female. 

A word from our program manager 

The widows are extremely happy with the program and have shared this with the local leaders as well as those in the community that are not yet part of this program

The women who have milk have different opinions: Lydia is enjoying it very much, Vairot says it is ok and Jovannis says it tastes different to the one from cows but is still drinking it. 

Take up of the crossbreeding loan is still low in the villages of Rwentojo and Kytinda where Force and Ronaldo live. It would appear the communities there are not aware of the program we therefore need to run a program campaign

The kids are developing well with the exception of the male from Merida’s goat – it’s a 25% male which didn’t seem to get enough milk at the beginning of its life.

It seems half of the widows take their goats with them to the gardens so they’re on a semi-free range systems.  Although  the 50% goats can live like a local goat but it’s better to keep them in a zero grazing environment if possible to maximise the amount of milk they produce.

We are all looking forward to the day when more families can readily access milk as part of their diet. 

For regular updates about this and our other programs, please keep an eye on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LetThemHelpthemselves/

International Women’s Day, Hashtags and Ultra poor women

It is International Women’s Day today and the question I am preoccupied with today is whether such days help ultra poor women in any meaningful ways. In the current times of hashtags the International Women’s Day has its own hashtag #IWD2017 or if you prefer #IWD17. 

But are hashtags enough to effect the sort of change ultra poor women are looking for? Do such women get to see hashtags and social media memes? 

Ultra poor women are said to 

  1. have no assets to generate their own income
  2. engage in casual labour
  3. and are poorly paid.

As far we are concerned here at LTHT, hashtags are not enough and International Women’s Day should mean more and be inclusive.

We have over the last year and half focused on providing ultra poor women with assess to generate their income.  We believe that

decent work is central to women’s #economicempowerment given its inherent importance to women’s well being and ability to advance in areas such as acquiring income and assets – ODI”

international women's day
Night with her goats

This has had an impact in the lives of women such as Night  Barema who have managed to increase their income from £2.43 to £17 a month. You can read about Night’s story here 

International women's day
Agnes- menstrual hygiene ambassador

Today, women and girls in rural Uganda cannot access information and materials to manage their menstruation. It is International women’s Day 2017 and yet some school girls still use leaves during their periods, miss 2.6 days of school each month and women use rags. To that end we launched a menstrual hygiene program last year to change this but we still have a long way to go. 

You can read about our program at http://www.lethemhelpthemselves.org/index.php/menstrual-hygiene-management-in-ntungamo-secondary-schools/

international women's day
Lydia

Widows and older women in rural Uganda are vulnerable to poor diet as they are almost always the last to eat. We started a goat program that provides an income generating asset to such women and gives them access to milk in their diet. 

As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we should reconsider where and on what we focus on as hashtags will not help ultra poor women. This day should also be about equality for women regardless of their social and economic standing. We can make a real difference in those women’s lives with very little input. 

 

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

sanitary towels

 

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 interviewed miss 2.6 days of school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products 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 includes 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


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 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

 

 

Letter of appreciation from Ntungamo district council

Our water project was one of the items discussed at the local district council meeting (Ntungamo District). Our man on the ground Denis Aheirwe received the attached letter in recognition of his efforts to bring clean water to 3 villages in the district. The final number of taps was 19.

To read the letter follow this link

Letter from District.

 

Clean water in the village
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