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Sanitary kits allow schoolgirls to learn in peace

By | January 6th 2011

By Sam Otieno

Poor schoolgirls will benefit from a major re-usable sanitary pads initiative, which aim to keep them in school.

Already, Safaricom Foundation has donated Sh500,000 towards buying 455 sanitary kits dubbed "Huru Empowerment Kits".

Each kit includes a drawstring bag that also functions as a backpack with eight reusable sanitary napkins, three pairs of underwear, soap to wash the pads, information on proper pad use and HIV/Aids prevention and sexual and reproductive health, and a waterproof bag to safely store used pads.

The sanitary kits were distributed to 500 girls from five primary schools in Mukuru last November. The beneficiary schools include St Bhakita, St Elizabeth, St Catherine, and Mukuru.

Desperate situation

Beatrice Nuke, a Standard Seven pupil at St Bhatia Primary School in Nairobi has just entered puberty and the thing she dreads most is her periods. This is because there is no guarantee she will have sanitary pads at the time of need.

Just like most parents who live in Mukuru slums, Beatrice’s parents are too poor to afford sanitary pads monthly. This compounded by the fact that she is not close with her mother and five months since the start of her monthly periods she has been in a desperate situation.

"In most occasions, I use toilet paper as a protective measure during my periods. This is however uncomfortable as sometimes I stain my clothes," she explains.

Whenever her monthly cycle sets in, Beatrice would rather approach her class teacher for assistance than her parents who don’t have a stable income.

Many girls from the slums undergo the same ordeal every month. The girls are forced to scavenge for used and discarded pads or use old clothes, toilet paper, bits of mattresses, or sheets of newspaper as makeshift pads on most occasions. These unhealthy alternatives are however no substitute for clean, dependable pads.

Due to lack of sanitary kits, some of the girls also fail to attend classes whenever they are having monthly periods. This in the long run impacts negatively on their performance.

Moved by its commitment to support the education sector and communities in need, Safaricom Foundation recently partnered with American Share, the non-profit arm of Micato Safaris to help bridge the gap and give hope to the girls by supporting its Huru Reusable Sanitary Pad Project.

The project seeks to distribute sanitary kits free of charge to the adolescent girls to help them stay in school.

Speaking during the event, Mr Nzioka Waita, Safaricom Foundation Trustee said for girls to succeed in education, apart from a conducive learning environment, they require a supportive healthy environment.


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