The nightmare of handling menstruation among school going children in Manafwa district will soon become a thing of the past, thanks to a project aimed at equipping them with skills of producing sanitary pads using locally available material. The project is being led by Help International, An American nongovernmental organization. It hopes to stem the cases of girl child school dropout rates in schools in the district during to lack of sanitary towels.
Rachel Wade, the Director Help International says the campaign that will depend on locally available material will target school going girls who will in turn act as ambassadors. She says beneficiaries are being taught on how to make sanitary pads using locally available materials like pieces of soft cotton and clothing which are sewed together. They are expected to spread the message to their peers and relatives who are out of school.
She says they want these girls to be able to afford modern sanitary towels and also to save money from buying expensive pads to enable them purchase other scholastic materials so that they can stay in school. Wade says a team will be established to make consistent follow up on the trained girls to continue giving them refresher trainings to keep them updated. According to the arrangement, each pack of pads made would cost 400 shillings to sustain the project.
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Apart from teaching them how to make these pads, the girls are also being engaged in sex education. 17-year-old Martha Nebohe, a student from Mandela Comprehensive School in Lwakhakha couldn’t hide her joy for the project which she says will go a long way in addressing the problem of drop-out among girl children.
Just like many other girls, Nebohe narrates how stressful it is for many year girls like when menstruation strikes.
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Saleh Namanya, the head teacher Mandela Comprehensive secondary school has whole heartedly embraced the project which he is hopeful will address the girl child education problem in the district. He expresses concerns at the overwhelming number of girl children who knock at their offices seeking assistance for sanitary pads, which he says they can’t afford.
A recent research by Build Africa reveals the alarming statistics and effect of menstruation on girl child retention in schools and completion. The report revealed that on average of 80 days allocated to a school term, 29.7% of the adolescent girls interviewed said they miss a minimum of four days per cycle.