A 15 Years Old Girl Transforms Women On Menstrual Hygiene Management

A 15 Years Old Girl Transforms Women On Menstrual Hygiene Management

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It’s not common in African cultures for children to teach their parents and they accept it but the 15-year old Achola Beatrice, a primary School pupil, has done the unthinkable.

She introduced Re-Usable Menstrual Pad (RUMPS) production to improve general hygiene of girls and mothers in Lobure village at the outskirts of Magwi town in Eastern Equatoria state.

Achola, who learnt the skills of RUMPS production from health clubs at Magwi central primary focused on improving the hygiene of the women and girls in her village.

“I do this to maintain our personal hygiene and also to keep the skills. And then, we also need to improve our village”

“I called my two friends Tugulu and Flora Ajango and started to teach them on how to make the re-usable pads” Achola narrates the beginning of her initiative to transform the village.

Recho-ma-pro-final-6Not until one day Achola came late from school and her mother asked her to explain the delays, then the girl told her mother that they were for training on RUMPS production.

“I told my mother we delayed for training on production of re-usable pads, and she then told me to bring the RUMPS material we use at school to teach her and that I should tell our trainers to visit home as well,” Achola says.

Ms. Achola’s mother, a widow, inspired by her daughter share such good initiative with other women in the village as well so that they maintain their hygiene since all have little incomes.

“My mother then told me that since most women in the village have little income, we could share the initiative of re-usable menstrual pads for them to keep their hygiene” Achola said.

As Achola’s mother implored her daughter to teach as many women and girls in the village as possible, Achola also tasked her to do the mobilization.

“I told my mother to mobilize her peers as I do to the young girl and the women were willing to acquire the skills of RUMPS production,” says the initiator of village RUMPs group.

Achola included 16-year-old Obina Sovan, who is also a member of the school health club to her team with the aim to sensitize boys and men on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).

“We don’t only look at RUMPs and general hygiene alone but also breaking the silence on menstruation and to eradicate teasing of girls by boys and that’s why we needed Obina” she says.

“My role is to sensitize boys to stop laughing at girls when in their monthly periods and fathers should offer help to their daughter who may need it during menstruation,” Obina says.

Achola’s RUMPs students in Lobure village, who admired her initiative, are not only housewives alone but also civil servants and University students.

Armed with a note book and a pen at hand, another lady who show keen interest in Achola’s RUMPs production lessons is Amal Jackline, a 2nd year student of Bugema University in Uganda

“Achola has taught us that the RUMPs comprises of three elements; the liner with 16 x11 cm, the Wing pad measures 11 x 8 cm and the Straight pad measuring 11x 6 cm” Amal explained.

“At the beginning of menstruation when the blood flow is high, one fixed the wing pad in the liner, attached to the pant with a button and wears it and when the blood reduce you fix straight pad to use,” Amal demonstrates to visitors what she has learnt from her young teacher.

Ms. Amal describes the young girl as creative initiator with a heart for a village she claims it has been abandoned and left out in much government development projects due to its distance from the town centre.

Members of the women group named “Reber Aye Teko” in Acholi language with its motto “Let it happen”, plans to improve their work to income generating activity. They are lobbying from well wishers to aid them with sewing machine and offer further training on tailoring to enable them upgrade the skills offered by Achola on MHM.

SNV-Netherland development Organisation contracted Hope for children and Women Foundation to implement project after a study indicated high girls’ dropout rate due to poor menstrual hygiene management.

Ms. Atim Veronica, a trainer with Hope for Children and Women Foundation, explains that Re-Usable Menstrual Pads are made out of special cotton cloth material or fleece materials.

She said some of the materials are available in the market and customers could be linked to suppliers for fleece materials, which is not common.

“The advantage of the RUMPs is that one can use and then wash it to be used again another day after drying it in hygienic environment,” Atim commented the re-usable menstrual pads.

It was upon the economic viability of the re-usable menstrual pads that the project anticipated it would improve school attendance and general hygiene of girls in poor rural areas.

Impressed with Achola’s initiative, the director for Hope for Children and Women Foundation, Mr. David Makumbi, did not expect mothers would embrace the project.

“Our objective was that the girls share the knowledge with other girls who might have dropped out of school and other from schools where the project is not implemented. I’m overwhelmed of involvement of the mothers,”

-he exclaimed.

Recho-ma-pro-final-8Achola’s initiative captivates SNV’s Eastern Equatoria state Menstrual Hygiene Management project officer, Ms. Pasquina Acidria who led a communication specialist of the organisation to Lobure village.

“I would like to express my gratitude to your daughter Achola Beatrice who has proved to be a real agent of change in this community. We never expected any pupil would think of transforming mothers,” she
expressed.

Ms. Acidria testifies that the community event was out of scope of the SNV project but Achola’s creativity had impressed and pulled the organizations’ officials to the village.

“This project was mainly focusing on schools that’s why we never engaged the communities in the rural areas but Achola has made us drive to her village to witness the wonders she has done to her people by sharing the knowledge on RUMPs production” she stressed.

“I must say that this is an impact we never expected. I congratulate Achola for transferring the knowledge from school to transform the women in this village,” Acidria remarked.

“In my impact table, I don’t even know where to fix this but I will create a column and row to indicate it,” the Menstrual Hygiene Management project officer explained.

She says the expected impacts of the project centred on increased enrolment and retention of girls at schools, improvement in their attendance and performance in classes but never extension of the skills to the
community.

“You can now see for yourselves how children can be powerful in education as in our homes? Most
interestingly, the skill you have acquired has been brought by your daughter, who learnt it from school” Acidria praised Achola before the mothers.

Though the SNV project didn’t target mothers at community levels, Acidria testifies that Lobure was lucky to have Achola to share the knowledge with the people in the village.

“You might have not gotten the opportunity to attend the training on Menstrual Hygiene Management directly from SNV, but at least through your daughter, you have acquired the skills” she says.

Acidria assures the group that though SNV does not provide hand-outs, the women will continuously be strengthened for their ambition to grow.

“It’s encouraging that you are thinking deep and broad to commercialise re-usable menstrual pads production. We do not provide hand-outs but we will continue to strengthen your capacity to achieve goals for the skills you have acquired,” Ms. Acidria says.

SNV’s global communications specialist, Nick Greenfield who was on photo shooting event of the projects, confesses that the organisation also implements similar project in four other countries but never had it a unique impact like in Lobure village.

“Menstrual Hygiene Management is implemented in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Sudan, but around these countries, we had many great stories of change but
nowhere have we had a story quite like the one that is happening here,”
-Nike confessed.

Grateful for the mothers in Lobure to have opened an avenue for SNV to witness an unexpected benefit of its project, Nike suggested it’s better to share the story with the rest of the World.

I want to congratulate you and your daughter Beatrice for opening a way for us to your village. I had lots of stories from other schools but something very interesting to get the details,” he said.
We look forward to share your story with other people of south Sudan, other countries where we work in and people all over the World, the SNV communications specialist noted.

He expects Achola’s story and that of Lobure village women will be inspirational to others in the Globe for them to take action towards improving menstrual Hygiene Management.

“We hope your story will inspire other women, other villages, other countries and here in South Sudan to take the initiative to do what you have done, by taking the power in your hands to create something like this,” Nike commented Achola and Lobure women group.

Nick Greenfield, who works for SNV as communication specialist, reports on Water and Sanitation as well as “Girls in control” project, which focus on Menstrual Hygiene Management for schoolgirls.

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