Free sanitary pads help keep Khachonge girls of Bungoma in school
Written by Rosemary Wachiye
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Pupils of Khachonge area in Bungoma Central being taught on how to use the re-usable sanitary pads. [Photos/ Rosemary Wachiye]
Pupils aged above 13 years at Khachonge area, in Bungoma Central District are all smiles after bidding goodbye to a long term problem they were facing of lack of funds to purchase sanitary towels every month whenever they had to undergo menstruation.
Thanks to ‘Help Khachonge’ an initiative that was launched in 2004 by Switzerland sponsors headed by Ms. Everlyn Wamalwa, the children in primary schools and secondary school from around the region get free re-usable sanitary towels to serve them through the essential times.
The package commonly known to them as ‘Uhuru kits’ that comprises of eight reusable sanitary towels, three panties and a piece of soap was handed to more than 80 pupils in the region, 40 in Khachonge primary school, 20 in Khachonge Girls high school and another 20 in Bwake primary on August 2011 and now six months later they told the story of how the assistance had changed their lives.
The reusable sanitary towels are made out of washable readily available cotton clothes and a towel material inserted inside for purposes of absorbing and keeping the user comfortable all through the time they are then sewn round to make it up.
In an exclusive interview with West Fm, a sampled group of 5 girls from Khachonge R.C Primary school expressed their happiness over the assistance they got that according to all of them brought happiness and confidence to help them through their studies well.
“Since I started using these re-usable sanitary towels, I have been very confident in class, I can now play out with the other children and I nowadays attend school all through,” said Millicent Sibuywa class eight pupil.
The girls explain how they used to miss school whenever they were in their monthly period because of lack of money to purchase the sanitary towels from shops before they were given the re-usable sanitary towels.
“I am never absent in school anymore, my parents never had the money to buy me sanitary towels sold in shops and many at times I would use rags and pieces of old clothes instead, that would make me feel uncomfortable and hence I never used to attend classes,” said Elizabeth Wanyonyi class eight pupil.
To others, whenever that time of the month would reach it would spell doom as they never had facilitation towards making themselves free and comfortable like other children, in such a poverty stricken area, to afford Sh. 85 per month for purchasing the towels.
According to their teacher Mary Simiyu before the girls were provided for the sanitary towels, the boy pupils in the school used to complain about the strong stench that the girls used to produce when in their monthly periods but she states that its not the same since the project of re-usable towels was started.
“The boys nowadays don’t complain at all they don’t even realize when the girls are in their periods similarly there are reduced incidences of the girls staining their uniform and feeling embarrassed about participating in class,” said Mrs.Simiyu.
She was quick to remark on how impressed she was with the remarkable improvement in the performance of the girls in school after they received the uhuru kits that have helped them concentrate in class and participate in many academic oriented activities.
“The girls are nowadays free to interact with in class, they participate in class well without having to fear about soiling their uniform and people watching them while they walk around with pieces of clothes, stuck in their pants,” said Mrs.Simiyu.
Ms. Everlyn Wamalwa of the ‘Help Khachonge’ initiative
One of the parents whose child received the free re-usable sanitary towels, Mrs. Alice Mukapuru expressed her relieve off costs after her daughter got the pack that she says has been of great help to her.
“I wish all my daughters could get the same Uhuru kit that has helped me save a lot of money that I used to spend on buying her sanitary towel every month, am very grateful to the sponsors,” said Mrs. Mukapuru.
The parent also called upon other parents whose children got the pack to assist them in mainiating good hygiene that would help a lot when they wash the sanitary towels and ensure they change them frequently to keep a fresh smell.