Keeping Girls in School with Cloth Pads

Hello fellow bloggers of GladRags! I’m a US Peace Corps Public Health Volunteer serving in the Nyanza Province of Kenya. My home is a small village on the Kisii-Kisumu road called Mikai. After two months of in-country training I was partnered with a small community based organization called Kakelo Based Integrated Support Project. We focus on supporting those community members affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including those living positive, widows, orphans, and caretakers of these people. I love working with my organization, and feel blessed everyday that I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity.

Upon arriving at my site 9 months ago I was questioned by members with an urgent need for our girls to stay in school. We immediately identified the main reasons why girls drop out of school, menstruation being one and early pregnancy being another, and set forth to correct it. We found that girls miss an average of five days of school per month due to menstruation, and early pregnancy is a shocking epidemic.

The Female Hygiene program consists of teaching each in-school girl at menstruation age in our Kakelo Location how to easily and cheaply make her own re-useable sanitary pads using locally available materials. We will also supplement each activity with correct information about how to track menstruation, what is physically happening to a woman’s body during puberty, and healthy sexual education. The sustainable and most important aspect of this project is I’ll be working with female community health workers who will help me develop the educational aspect and insure the continuance of the program well after my service is over.

The project has recently received all the donations needed to start, which is a wonderful surprise for everyone at my organization! Our next step is to buy the materials and I’ll start teaching the women I’m working with how to make the pads. We’ll then develop the education program together and start visiting schools one at a time, with groups of 10 girls at a time. Even though the project has been fully funded we still want the word to get out that hundreds of thousands of girls don’t have the proper hygiene and sexual health education to keep themselves safe from early pregnancy and continue their education. We want to thank GladRags and the readers of this blog for listening to our story. I’ll be sending updates as the project starts to keep everyone informed, so please stay tuned!

Asanteni sana tena,

Helen McGuirk


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