Today I started my period which may be a bit of TMI but it reminded me that a month ago I was in Uganda and had my period while I was there. You are probably wondering why I am telling you this but bear with me for a minute or two. Having my period in Uganda was annoying but I was prepared. I had all the supplies I needed packed in my bag. It never even crossed my mind that starting my period would affect my trip to Uganda. I had what I needed to deal with the situation without it being a big deal.
Our very first stop in Uganda was a primary school to meet a life skills club. We met with an amazing group of girls and boys who work together to keep their friends, sisters and classmates in school. You may be wondering why the other students are not making it to school and why their friends had to form a club to help them. Plain and simply the girls are not making it to school because they are starting their periods and missing multiple days of school.
When the girls are not in school they are much more vulnerable to abduction, forced labor, and rape. They are not gaining the education they need to continue in school and work towards their goals all because their periods start. A natural monthly cycle that every woman deals with is keeping young girls from attending school.
We learned that before this life class started girls were using cardboard, banana leaves, toilet paper, random paper, or anything they could find to try and make makeshift pads to help them stay in school. World Vision trained school staff worked with the club members to teach them to make reusable sanitary pads out of readily available materials.
This co-ed group of amazing kids meet at least once a week to hand sew reusable pads for the girls in the school. They showed us the steps that they take to sew the pads and explained why it is important to them. One young man told us he wants to make sure his sisters can stay in school and learn.
Girls are taught how to clean the pads and use them properly. Boys learn to be more sensitive to girls and understand that it is a natural process.
The kids that we met in this life club had huge smiles and were so excited to be helping their other classmates. We learned that right now they are hand stitching every pad so it is taking them a lot longer to make them than they hoped. They dream of getting three sewing machines for the school to make the sewing process faster and give them the opportunity to help even more girls in school.
If you are like me you are thinking how do I send the three sewing machines to Uganda and make this happen. Because that is exactly what went through my head standing there. I started wondering if I could Amazon Prime them to the school or write a check. What I learned is that by sponsoring a child through World Vision the money you send each month goes to support these projects.
You may also be wondering why a tampon/pad company doesn’t just send a crate of supplies over and take care of it. Honestly this was my first thought also but after being in Uganda I realized how unrealistic this idea is. There is no way to keep products coming long term and make sure that they are available. These products also produce additional waste that the schools and girls are not equipped to handle. By learning to make/use reusable pads the girls and their classmates are creating a long term sustainable answer to the situation. They can continue to make reusable pads and pass the sewing skills down to younger classmates.
Don’t worry I am still working on finding out about the three sewing machines and how to get them to the school. I know that it can feel like only a drop of water in an ocean of need when you think about giving and trying to help but know that the money we donate each month truly does make a difference.
This life skills class is making an impact to their classmates every single day. Every day a young girl is able to stay in school and be protected is a day that she is not getting raped, forced into marriage, abducted, or put to work. Every day she is in school is another day she is working towards her education and her dreams. The work World Vision is doing in Uganda is making a difference in these girls and boys lives.
I am so thankful for World Vision giving me the opportunity to see first hand the work they are doing in Uganda! I know that I have changed since this trip and can’t wait to share more on the work that is being done to keep kids safe and in school.