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Menstrual hygiene fete brings hope to Samburu

 Executive Director Pastoralist Child Foundation Samuel Leadismo (In white T-shirt) addressing men, women, and girls who attended a community awareness summit on Menstrual hygiene at Kitamany village in Samburu East constituency on Saturday, May 25, 2024. [Michael Saitoti, Standard]

In the rural Kitamany village in Samburu East constituency, a quiet revolution that holds the key to unlocking the potential of pastoralist girls is taking place.

For far too long, the stigma and shame associated with menstruation has prevented girls from accessing the education they deserve, trapping them in a cycle of missed classes and diminished opportunities.

But now, thanks to the tireless efforts of Pastoralist Child Foundation, the tide is turning.

The foundation has taken on the challenge of addressing the critical issue of menstrual hygiene management in local schools. And the results have been nothing short of life-changing.

By distributing sanitary pads and providing comprehensive menstrual health education, the foundation has empowered girls like Naomi Naanyu, a Form Three student at a local secondary school, to reclaim their rightful place in the classroom.

“The menstrual hygiene education we received from the foundation is very important because it has given me more confidence. I feel free all the time, even during menstruation. I don’t have to worry now that I know what to do and have the facilities to keep me comfortable,” said Naanyu.

The impact of the foundation goes far beyond individual experiences. Naomi Lengamunyak, a social worker, has seen a remarkable change in the community. She says school attendance has improved and the academic performance is on the rise since the menstrual hygiene training started.

“After the menstrual hygiene education, the girls’ attendance has improved significantly and their confidence in studies has increased. This has been a game changer for our girls. It has enlightened their lives now and in the future,” Lengamunyak said.

Pastoralist Child Foundation has joined hands with Drawing Dreams Foundation in the initiative to build capacity among men, children and women to educate the Samburu East constituency community on menstrual health hygiene.

During the menstrual hygiene summit held under a tree at Kitamany village last Saturday, the non-governmental organisations noted that the challenges faced by girls in Samburu county were not unique.

Across Kenya and much of the developing world, menstruation remains a taboo subject, shrouded in misinformation and cultural stigma.

UNICEF says, every day, 300 million women and girls have no access to a comfortable environment, safe sanitary products, or a private space to manage their periods.

This lack of support has far-reaching consequences, with girls missing up to 40 days of school each year due to menstruation-related problems.

But the tide is turning, thanks to the tireless efforts of organisations like the two.

By addressing the root causes of the problem and providing girls with the knowledge and resources they need, Pastoralist Child Foundation and Drawing Dreams Foundation are not only improving educational outcomes but also breaking down the societal barriers that have long held women back.

Samuel Leadismo, the Executive Director of Pastoralist Child Foundation, said the summit brought together older women and girls who are affected, for them to listen and break the silence.

Leadismo said the summit coincided with the Global Menstrual Day celebrations.

“We want the community to know that menstruation is an integral part of creation for girls. It is something normal and part of their lives. It needs to be valued and respected,” he said.

He noted that it was important to bring on board all stakeholders to offer interventions.

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