Tuesday the 28th of May last week, was the World’s Menstrual Hygeine Day. It’s a day that we take the opportunity to educate young women… and men, about a woman’s menstrual cycle- why it happens, how to deal with it emotionally, physically, socially and mentally.
A good friend who runs an NGO focused on women and the girl child called, the Intensive Rescue Foundation International (IRFI) , Dr Jennifer Braimah, invited me to join her in her sentisization trip to the Model Secondary School, Zhidu in the Lugbe area of the FCT, Abuja.
I didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be so much fun for us and for the young ladies and boys we met at the school! Jennifer spoke to them about menstruation, why it happens and what to do when it does. These young ladies, being from poor homes, don’t enjoy the luxury of disposable sanitary pads like those in the urban areas. These girls have to use rags, pieces of foam or fabrics. They either do not come to school on those days, which could amount to missing a whole school week, not just because they cannot just pop into the toilet to change their sanitary pads like we would, but because the school has no toilets for the students!!!
While you drink that in, imagine a school complex built with classrooms but no provisions made for toilets- so the students, girls and boys go into the bushes next to the school to do their business and that would include changing their ‘sanitary towels’ in this case, probably a piece of cloth.
Jennifer was able to educate them on how to use the new reusable /washable pads, clean them up and keep them hygeinic. They asked lots and lots of questions. I was meant to speak to them briefly about how to dress properly as ladies but running out of time, we ( we also visited with another friend, Nawal, a Lebanese environmentalist and artist who makes art out of ‘waste’ such as used bottles, cans and bags.) decided to let the question and answer session run out it’s natural course seeing the interest in the eyes of these young ladies. To us, answering their questions was more relevant than telling them about what we do and how to look better. The questions were quite personal to them, from if sitting close to a boy would make them pregnant, to what a cycle is.
We shared out pairs of socks, school shoes, school bags and lady singlets to all the kids- boys and girls, both the reusable and disposable sanitary towels, to the girls who needed them and then to the teachers- All the teachers took for themselves or for the women in their families (All items donated by the IRFI)
All in all, it was quite a trip! bad roads, a huge garbage site along the way…yes it was quite the trip and one of the highlights of my month of May.
The pictures say it all!
Courtesy Dr. Jennifer Braimah