"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Monday, September 07, 2015

post from natalie (natalia)

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Like hundreds of millions of women around the world, I too, get my period. Okay, maybe this isn't such a revelation, but it's definitely not something I talk about with people on a regular basis. And honestly, it's because I don't need to. Throughout my adolescence, it's a topic we talked about in school, including (gasp!) the boys. We learned how our anatomy works, why it happens, and most importantly, how to hygienically manage the monthly occurrence so that it didn't interfere with our daily activities. Although at times it was a bit embarrassing, as everything seems to be during puberty, thankfully, my questions were answered a long time ago.

This is not the case for the girls in Uganda. It's an issue that is rarely, if ever discussed. In fact, in many parts of the country, menstruation is still considered a source of shame. Couple that with a severe lack of resources and access to proper hygiene supplies, and the most basic of biological functions, for many, becomes a barrier to attending school. So when a friend forwarded an article about AFRIpads, a Ugandan company manufacturing reusable cloth hygiene pads, I knew this was something our girls at St. Mary Kevin needed to know about.

Utilizing the power of social media, I put out a call to my friends and family to help. Within one day, we had collected nearly $1000. By the end of the week, we had raised enough money to purchase the equivalent of an 8 year supply for 50 girls.

Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, Irene, Lillian, Tina, and Beatrice were invited along to make the purchase. We spent well over an hour with the staff of AFRIpads learning how to use and properly care for the pads, and by the end of our time there, the girls were PUMPED. So much so, that the responsibility of teaching the other girls how to use the products was passed on to them. When we returned to school, all of our girls were gathered in a classroom and sat intently listening (if not occasionally giggling) to Tina explain how to use the products and worked with Lillian, Beatrice, and Irene to wash and prepare the pads for their first use.

As overwhelmed as I was with the outpouring of generosity CTT received for this initiative, it was witnessing this transfer of knowledge that had me close to happy tears. In a very small way these bright young ladies have been empowered to take ownership of their own sexual health, as well as the sexual health of their sisters. And it is this gift that will last a lifetime.


The first wash.

Reading about menstruation. A first for our girls.

Excited about our AFRIpads!

1 comment:

AFRIpads said...

hi Gloria, this is great to read!! Thanks a lot for sharing, we are always happy to see stories like this. If you have any more pictures to share please send them to Helen@afripads.com so we can share them through our social media channels! Thanks again and all the best.