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28 May 2024 - News

How Menstrual Hygiene Support Transformed Pamela's Life

By Aron Mukhwana, Sponsorship Communications Coordinator. 

For many girls in Uganda, managing menstruation is a daunting challenge, often resulting in missed school days and social isolation. Pamela, an 18-year-old student, knows this struggle all too well. Raised by a foster parent who couldn't afford sanitary towels, Pamela resorted to using old pieces of cloth during her menstrual periods.

This makeshift solution left her uncomfortable and constantly fearful of ridicule from her classmates. Pamela's story is a common one, where inadequate menstrual hygiene management leads to a host of challenges for young girls. Many, like Pamela, are forced to miss school or endure discomfort and embarrassment.

This was Pamela's reality until the InNovative and inCLusive eDucation programme for refugee and host community children (INCLUDE) currently in its third phase of implementation led by Save the Children in collaboration with Finn Church Aid, Norwegian Refugee Council, Humanity & Inclusion, War Child Holland and Planning for Tomorrow and funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid intervened."I used to feel so uncomfortable attending class whenever I was in my periods," Pamela recalls.

"I would wait for my classmates to leave before I would make any move because I feared that they would laugh at me." The project provided menstrual hygiene kits to Pamela and many other girls in her community, bringing a ray of hope and a significant improvement in their lives. These kits, containing reusable pads, soap, and panties, were part of a broader initiative to support girls during their menstrual cycles.

"After Save the Children distributed the sanitary kits, the incidence of girls missing school due to their periods has now reduced to almost zero," says Jeniva, a Senior Woman Teacher.

The initiative didn't just stop at providing supplies. Prior to the distribution, learners and senior women teachers received training on the proper use of the kits. This training empowered them to support new students and helped dismantle misconceptions about menstrual hygiene management.

A crucial aspect of this initiative was the inclusion of boys in the training sessions, fostering a supportive environment. Deon, a male student who attended the training, shared his transformation. "I learned how to make reusable pads and support my sisters and classmates whenever they are in their periods. I used to laugh at my sister whenever she was in her periods, but since I was trained about menstrual hygiene, I stopped."

Deon's testimony underscores the importance of involving the entire community in addressing menstrual hygiene. The training has had a lasting impact, promoting a culture of understanding and support among students.

The Echo Include project distributed 3,300 menstrual kits to eligible girls within the settlement. These kits have not only improved attendance but also bolstered the confidence of girls like Pamela, who no longer have to face their periods in fear and discomfort. The initiative also equipped schools with emergency kits to manage unexpected situations, ensuring no girl is left unsupported.

Pamela's life has changed significantly since receiving the menstrual kit. She now attends classes confidently and participates fully in school activities. Her story is a testament to the profound impact that access to proper menstrual hygiene management can have on a girl's education and overall well-being. The INCLUDE project is a lifeline for conflict-affected children, enabling them to access safe and inclusive learning opportunities.

By addressing menstrual hygiene management, the project ensures that girls like Pamela can continue their education without interruption, paving the way for a brighter future. As more girls receive the support they need, the dream of uninterrupted education becomes a reality for many.