The GIRL CHILD Initiative
SHU implements the GIRL CHILD initiative (Promoting menstrual hygiene management) in Kabale district in south western Uganda. In this area and other schools of the underserved communities it is common to find the entire school completely without any knowledge about menstrual hygiene management resulting into increasing cases of diseases and school drop outs due to stigma and discrimination.
Menstrual hygiene management
Periods no longer a pain for school girls
This photo shows how cheap, washable, reusable sanitary pads are preventing girls from missing school in Butanda subcounty in Ndorwa west, Kabale district -Uganda.
Cheap, reusable sanitary pads are helping to keep Poor and vulnerable girls in school.
In Uganda, menstruation is not a frequently discussed topic, yet it is a big problem for teenage girls. Faced with the prospect of using rags, past papers, leaves among others to curb the flow of blood, many girls choose not to go to school during their period.
Before SHU pads Bridget used rags and leaves(ebigorogoro) to manage her periods.
When Bridget, 15, got her first period, she stayed at home because she was embarrassed. “Sometimes blood would come out onto my dress,” she says. “The leaves I used even fell down when I was walking.”
In addition, girls endure attitudes that stigmatize menstruating women and girls as dirty, and many are too ashamed to leave home while they are bleeding. Missing school for an extended time every month is detrimental to girls ‘education and which means they fall behind their male peers.
Supporting girls to manage their periods effectively means they will miss less school.
These millions of absences in Uganda lead to girls getting fewer qualifications (low levels of education, limited access to jobs and spending less time building confidence and life skills.
Agatha, 16, has missed a lot of school due to her periods. “My mother never talked to me about it,” she says. “My friend Bridget told me that when I start my periods I should use a rag or leaves. She didn’t explain it she just told me to do it. Every month I would miss 2 or 4 days. I was fearful of going to school when I had it.”
Staying at school can improve girls’ confidence and life skills.
Serving Hearts – Uganda is providing a simple and effective solution to the problem. We produce washable (reusable), cloth sanitary pads that last for up to a year. As a result, girls are feeling confident enough to go back to school during their periods.
“Girls who use SHU pads say they are more comfortable now, “says Teacher Justine Barinjunakyi (Head teacher Kagoma primary school). “They can run and play which they were afraid to do before when they had their periods.”
SHU pads help girls to feel confident at school during their periods.
Both Bridget and Agatha now use SHU Pads and are back in school full-time. “All the girls come to school every day and our grades are better,” says Bridget. “No one is upset about getting their period anymore.”
Open discussions help to break down the stigmas surrounding menstrual hygiene.
Jenifer, 15, is one of the club leaders of the project at her school. “I wanted to be a health prefect so I could help my friends,” she says. “I teach them about keeping clean. I tell them to clean their private parts with clean water and clean dry cloth when changing pads, wash their SHU Pads very well and to dry them very well.”
Promerah giving a talk about menstrual hygiene management at her school. Because I am a Girl am committed to addressing the stigmas surrounding menstruation and supporting girls to manage their periods so they feel confident and stay in school.
Attitudes towards menstruation, and inadequate hygiene facilities, are having a detrimental impact on girls’ ability to make important decisions about their sexual health and well-being.
A menstrual hygiene management club meeting taking place at a school in Uganda.
For 2 million women and girls approximately country wide, menstruation is a monthly reality, yet in many districts in Uganda, they still face serious challenges when it comes to managing their periods.
How are girls affected?
BREAKING DOWN TABOOS
Serving Hearts-Uganda is committed to addressing the social beliefs and stigmas and discrimination surrounding menstruation. Together with local government and schools we are training peer educators (Ambassadors), teachers and parents. We also distribute menstrual hygiene materials in schools and teach girls how to manage their periods so they feel confident and stay in school.
SHU provides trainings for Girls and young women to make local reusable sanitary pads. We then purchase the pads and give them to poor and vulnerable girls. Bridget 16, is back in school full-time since using SHU pads and says, “All the girls come to school every day and our grades are better.”
By breaking down stigmas and discrimination and supporting girls’ menstrual hygiene management, we are helping them stay in school and decide their futures free from discrimination.
Our new strategy will help us reach more poor and vulnerable girls with high quality programs.
We recognize the value and importance of partnerships in reaching our ambitious targets. The contributions of funders, sponsors, the government, local partners and colleagues within Serving Hearts-Uganda are essential as we address the issues facing Ugandan schools and communities and we will seek to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones to make that a reality over the coming years.
|HIV/AIDS/Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) Project
It’s estimated that 6 million people are living with AIDS in Uganda: approximately More than 10.000 children under 15 are currently living with HIV and AIDS. That’s why Serving hearts-Uganda has prevention programs to stop the spread of AIDS and protection programs to help children who have been orphaned or are vulnerable due to the infection.A growing body of evidence demonstrates how children living with or affected by HIV and AIDS are especially vulnerable to issues of violence, abuse, stigma and discrimination. Serving hearts-Uganda works to prevent the spread of HIV and ensure children affected by AIDS get the help they need. With the support from individuals we help communities to care for sick and vulnerable children, as well as provide education, emotional support, nutritious food and much more.Serving Hearts-Uganda envisions a country where children and families can live free of HIV infection and in which families that are affected by HIV and AIDS can live positively and productively without stigma and discrimination.
Serving hearts-Uganda protects children from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence in kabale district.. Our programs focus on the most vulnerable children while aiming for the safety and well-being of all children. Working with governments and hoping to work with international organizations too, and local community partners, we strive to create lasting change with improvements in policy and services that protect children whether in a natural disaster, conflict, or development setting Read more.
The Livestock Project/sustainability of SHU initiatives
In order to boost income generation among targeted households SHU provides goats to beneficiary households. Each household receives 1 mature goat normally under gestation. This goat is easy to look after and multiply very fast enabling the benefiting households to sell the off springs to be able to meet their basic requirements. Beneficiaries are also trained in improved agricultural practices specifically in goat management.