Going back to my village of Seme brings doting memories and an opportunity to touch base with friends that I grew up with, eat grandma’s chapattis and listening to grandpa’s tales over the campfire. Then there are the laughs from hyenas and the sound of crickets squeaking through the night. Normally, I only visit my village during school holidays so that I spend time with my nieces and nephews, however, last week I got a call from home that my niece, Mary who is 12 years old had missed 3 days of school because of her monthly periods as I had inadvently forgot to send the sanitary pad supplies that she needed. Dutifully I bought enough supplies of sanitary pads and boarded the next bus to Seme in Kisumu, at least I had enough sanitary pads for her for 6 months but the more I thought that she missed school because of her periods the more I wanted to find out if this is something that happens to her friends or girls in general in my district. The fact finding mission was not only a blow to me but I felt bad that I was oblivious to the fact that many girls miss at least 3-4 school days in a month. I discussed this with many parents and teachers and concluded that something drastic needs to be done. Generally a school year in Kenya has 3 terms and each term is around 4 months long. This means that on average a girl misses 40-50 days in any school year because of her menstrual cycle while the boys are in school. This explained the poor grade levels among girls in Seme. What exasperated me more was that missing school is not enough but the rudimentary things girls on menstrual cycle do! The ones whose guardians or parents cannot afford sanitary pads sit on the ground the whole day playing checkers so that the soil can absorb their menstrual flow. It shocked me that in the 21st century with all modernity such mundane practices still exists. It even gets worse, those girls who go to school in their menses have to contend to using unhygienic cut pieces of clothing or plucked mattress sponges to absorb the flow. This sad state of affairs is even made worse by a ‘male dominated African culture’ where women are taught to be ashamed of their menstrual cycle. This not only robs these little girls of their dignity but also self esteem. For most rural families, the purchase of a sanitary pad for their girls is not a priority, food comes first and then educating the boy child is the natural thing to do. For my niece, Mary, it only costs me $24 for a year supply of sanitary pads. Each month, I spend $2 dollars however, not most families in the village can afford $24 for the sanitary for their girls. Some homestead have 3 to 4 girls, this means that the cost is high for such families and definitely not a priority. This scenario led me to conclude that I need to do something, I just can’t sit and watch as Mary’s friend, Jane skips school because of lack of sanitary pads. What about the other girls who are not Mary’s friend? Who will help them get sanitary pads? This is a Call to Action for everyone to chip into the Sanitary Pad Fund. I want to supply over 100000 girls with 1 year supply of sanitary pads, collaborating with teachers and parents to provide sanitary health training to our girls. I reckon if we can do 100000 girls, we can do a million girls, why we don’t make sanitary pads a right to all girls regardless of their guardian financial capability. The vision for this fund is to provide every girl in Kenya who needs a free supply of sanitary pads so that they can stay in school. We will also reach out to all young girls living in the rural areas in Kenya so that we provide them with a year’s supply of sanitary pads. In an uncanny way, Mary’s plight has also helped me find the cause that I will crusade for the rest my life. Let us rally behind this cause by at least donating $24 dollar for 1 girl to stay in school without being absent because of menses. With your contribution we can buy more sanitary pads, give it to girls who need them and the more we raise the more reach we will have. Kindly sound this clarion calls to your friends and family and help me keep our girls in school.

posted by SanitaryGuy: 1428 days ago