Once Upon a Time……

The subject of menstruation is strictly taboo in rural Uganda. Mothers do not tell their daughters, and schools do not teach on it. When a young girl reaches puberty, she is left to wonder what is happening: injury? Dying? A curse? HIV? Myths and falsehoods abound. Poverty pervades life in rural Uganda; $300/yr per person does not go far. A girl is the lowest on the social scale, and most have no resources to manage their menstruation. She doesn’t dare go to school that week.

New Life Primary in Hoima, Uganda, was our first partner school. At their KFNL Health and Hygiene Day, all girls 9 years and up were given factual information about their bodies, how the menstrual cycle works and that it is absolutely normal for all females. They were also told that now pregnancy is possible if they have sex and that having sex has a high risk of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Every bit of this was NEW news to them. New knickers were given to each girl and MakaPad sanitary pads (made in Uganda and biodegradable) as needed are provided on an ongoing basis.

Well, Darvis (name changed) began weeping uncontrollably. The Headmistress took her aside. Darvis shared she was very afraid because of what she had learned that day. She did not know any of it before. She had been “meeting with a man” so he would buy her a package of sanitary pads each month. She was terrified she might have HIV or some other disease and said she did not want to keep meeting with that man. Darvis was hugged and reassured that she never has to do that again. She has new knowledge, a secure supply of sanitary pads, and new confidence. Her goal is to complete primary and go on to secondary school – rare in Uganda for a girl. Several other girls came forward and shared similar stories, all literally risking their lives for a package of sanitary pads. No more!

And they all will live a better life than before…..