Imagine being a 14 year old girl heading off to school with your menstrual period and not having a clean place to tend to your sanitary needs – or any money to buy sanitary towels for protection. This is the dilemma faced by young African women have no money for the luxury of sanitary pads.
Young African women have enough to contend with but when I visit African schools, the female students are quite vocal about this disadvantage. Schools recognize that girls miss a few days each month because they have no means of dealing with the problems caused by menstruation. This slows their ability to achieve at school and causes them to fall behind the boys.
Sanitary pads are expensive. Particularly if you are barely getting by with other school expenses or even food. In some communities there are initiatives for producing reusable, washable sanitary towels but even this requires a private place to look after your needs which is often not available.
The women at St Mark’s Church in Barriefield, Ontario heard about this problem at one of the schools that has been supported by the CanAssist African Relief Trust for the past few years. Provision of ongoing supplies and consumables is not within the mandate of CanAssist so we approached this Anglican Church Women’s Group for help. And they responded.
The ACW at St Mark’s have been providing funds to purchase sanitary towels and undergarments for the young girls at Kanyala Little Stars School for the past 18 months. And the reward has been better attendance from the girls who now can match the boys in academics. One young woman even got top marks for the region in the last set of standardized exams before secondary school.
Another Kingston couple came forward with a donation to CanAssist to build construct improved latrines and washing areas for the girls. What an improvement!
This problem is huge. But I commend the women at St Mark’s who have determined that they will help the young girls at Kanyala Little Stars with this somewhat delicate problem.
The school is running low on supplies and the St Mark’s ACW will be looking to send another $450 to help for the next few months. In order to keep this ongoing, I’m sure they would welcome a $10 from other Canadian women (or men) who would like to contribute.
Next time you see me, pass me $10 and I will be glad to send it on to the St Mark’s ACW and thence to the Kenyan young women. Evelyn Bowering (firstname.lastname@example.org)would also be happy to be the intermediary to help bolster the ACW funds to keep this program going.