It seems like such a minor thing here in the United States: access to sanitary pads for women. They are readily available at an affordable price. That’s not the reality in rural Africa. While a variety of feminine hygiene products is available in large cities like Nairobi or Mombasa, there are no options for young women in rural villages.
Thousands of girls miss three to five days of school each month due to their menstrual cycles. Those absences lower their academic performance and self-esteem. It also widens gender disparities in educational achievements. Girls may also endanger their health by resorting to unhygienic solutions, like leaves, old cloth, sponges, or cotton from mattresses.
The leadership and staff of Pokot Outreach Ministry’s children’s homes have long searched for a sustainable solution to provide young women with the supplies they need for their monthly menstrual cycle. Over the past few years, several teams from the US have brought sanitary pads to distribute, but that was not practical for the long-term. In July, a team introduced a reusable sanitary pad kit.
The kit includes all of the materials to make a reusable sanitary pad holder, two washable sanitary pads, and a pretty bag for discreet storage. The girls will sew the kits themselves, not only giving them the satisfaction of being part of this solution, but equipping them with a valuable skill. Once they master making the pieces, they can then begin to create kits to sell to others.
As the assembly and sewing was explained, the girls’ faces began to brighten as they realized the freedom this solution would afford them. They eagerly waited their
turn to sew a few stitches on the sample. Jane, the sewing instructor in Kodich, immediately went to her sewing machine to work. Many of the girls gathered around as she completed an entire kit in an hour!
The sanitary pad kits were provided for young women through our partners in Kenya and South Sudan. We are excited to be part of bringing this sustainable solution to young women and hope to be able to expand this program to our other African partners in the future.