THE MHM JOURNEYS

Written by Moses Waibi & Namukose Winnie




Background

In African culture, especially here in the rural areas of Uganda, there are so many mysteries and stereotypes attached to menstruation, which young girls adopt as they grow up. Some of these are extremely unhealthy to their bodies and could result in life-time defects and a bad future. Examples of this include:

  • once a girl starts menstruation it means she is ready for marriage, and therefore leading to early marriages

  • when a girl is in her menstruation period, she is not supposed to go to public places

  • when a girl is on her period, she is not supposed to go to school (this has prohibited girls from attending school regularly which affects their academic performance and some drop-out of school due to failure to manage menstruation)

These scenarios attracted the attention of Busoga Trust to intervene and cause positive change in attitude and mindset of individuals both in schools and communities. Our aim is to ensure full-time enrolment of the girl-child in schools by devising effective solutions to their menstrual hygiene management challenges for a bright future! “Train a girl and you have trained a nation!”


Last week, we conducted a menstrual hygiene management session at a primary school and it was attended by 100 pupils who were trained in hand-sewing re-usable pads and also instilled in them knowledge on how to hygienically manage menstruation.



The menstrual challenges of the girl child (Testimony)

Meet Namatovu Vicky eleven (11) years of age and a pupil in a primary school in Kidera Sub-county, Buyende district:

I live with my parents who are peasants, they grow maize, bananas and beans on small scale for survival. I started my menstruation periods at 10 years, no one had talked to me about menstruation and the whole experience was so traumatizing. When I talked to my mother, she gave me old cloths to use because she could hardly afford to buy for me pads due to the low income status of the family; so, most of the times I use old cloth to pad myself. These cloths are very coarse on my skin, I could get bruises and every time I was in class, I could get tension that the blood will leak through and stain my cloth. And because there is no gum which holds this old cloth in place, sometimes I could fear that it might fall out in public. This had even stopped me from going to participate in co-curricular activities due to fear of shame; all these scenarios were so stressful to me.
But when Busoga Trust came to our school, my school times have greatly changed, now I don’t need to be on tension in class due to fear of leakage of the pad, I can go for sports without fear that my pad fall off in public. Busoga Trust has taught me to hand sew my own pads at home using locally available materials and these pads are so effective. Now I can also teach my friends and other people so that no other girl goes through such stressful times during menstruation as it was with me.
Not only that but Busoga Trust also went ahead and rehabilitated the borehole in our community where my school is located. And now am assured of safe clean water for washing my reusable pad and cleaning myself, I don’t have to go or stay home because of menstruation."

Vicky Namatovu proudly showing the menstrual pad she made herself.


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