Tanjim is a student at state university of New York New York (SUNY-Geneseo) who recently concluded his virtual internship with FSD Jinja Uganda. He worked along with staff at Kakira Outgrowers rural development fund(KORD) on a project called Buyengo Menstrual Health Project.
Tanjim was interested in addressing institutionalized health disparities poor societies experience that precipitate poor public health. He specifically wanted to focus in areas related to sexual and reproductive health, child and adolescent health.
During his community assessment in the target community where these menstrual challenges are predominant, Tanjim found out the girls of about 11 years, who have just started their menstruation periods face an issue of stigmatization from the male gender. This would make them less confident and eventually they would drop out of school. The other challenge was young girls didn’t know of the high need to take precaution to indulge themselves in sexual activities after they have gone through menstrual periods. Many of them have had un wanted pregnancies. Poor menstrual hygiene was yet another challenge since they did not could not afford the purchased sanitary towels.
Among the ways of addressing the challenges was to organize training sessions with teachers and parents who would act as mentors of these young girls. The training topics included; What menstruation is, how it occurs, when it occurs and how to maintain proper hygiene while young girls are going through this. The sessions concluded with the training of the young girls together with their mentors on how to make reusable sanitary towels.
The training sessions helped provide young girls with alternative methods on how they can manage their menstruation challenges. Learning how to make reusable sanitary pads saves the poor families of the girls from incurring high costs in trying to buy sanitary pads for their children versus tying to meet other basic needs of the family. It also reduces on the environment degradation since the poor disposal of used sanitary towels will be reduced. The young girls learnt how to calculate their safe and unsafe days. This helped them to know when to and when not to get involved with boys sexually hence reducing the unwanted pregnancies. The teachers from different schools developed ideas and plans to form health clubs once schools are re opened. The purpose of the health clubs is to address any health challenges that affect young girls learning experiences.
By the end of the project, the girls were confident and ready to encourage other girls not to drop out of school because menstruation is normal.