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Since early this year, we are raising funds to provide (school going) teenage girls in our work area with washable sanitary pads. We started this initiative to make it possible for the girls to also go to school during the days that they are menstruating. In Uganda the school participation of girls is known to be low (80% do not finish primary school!) with the structural lack of access to sanitary pads as a result of poverty (period poverty) playing a significant role in this.
In order to still get sanitary pads, the distraught and vulnerable girls often offer themselves for sex in exchange for sanitary pads. Sex-hungry men gratefully take advantage of this, with the sad result that not only do many girls become unwanted pregnant, but many also often become infected with HIV, with of course all the sad consequences that entails. Also, the girls are often not allowed to go to school when they are pregnant. Many young girls are expelled from school for that reason, and do not return anymore.
In Uganda, 1 in 4 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child. There are signs that this figure has even doubled since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic! A very important reason for this can be found in the fact that the schools have been closed for a long time (this is still the case at the time of this writing and there is no prospect of reopening; ever since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020 only the highest classes have been open for a few months). At school the girls are much safer from sexual abuse than in their home villages, where they are now forced to spend every day.
Unfortunately, over the last months several times in our work area the bodies of babies who were literally dumped immediately after birth have been found; of course that is the result of enormous panic. After all, how can a teenage girl from a poor family who has become pregnant unintentionally be required to take care of a baby? Of course great shame and lack of knowledge and awareness also play a major role in this.
By providing washable sanitary pads to teenage girls in our working area, and at the same time educating them, we want to ensure that in the future they will no longer be so easily prey to men who gratefully take advantage of their vulnerability. We will also provide the girls soap to enable them to wash the sanitary pads. Every time we will invite girls from another village. Given the circumstances, we are for the time being not posting photos of girls who have received a set of washable sanitary pads and soap.
Update 6. August
Last weekend we have for the first time handed out sanitary pads and soap to a group of girls for the first time at our location. The gratitude is enormous, not only from the girls, but also from their concerned mothers who of course feel completely hopeless as a result of the poor situation in which they have to stand up!
Our thanks go to Turinawe Prime, female Councilor at Kitooma Parish, and two male members of Village Health Teams (VHT), Turyagenda Godhead and Ronald Mburashaso. They, along with Noah, invited girls to receive the pads at our location and also provided them with necessary information.
Update 7. September
Earlier this week we have for the second time handed out washable sanitary pads and soap to teenage girls from our location.
We again thank Turinawe Prime, female Councilor at Kitooma Parish, for her presence at our location to provide the girls with necessary explanation together with our team member Obedience Akandinda.
Update 17. October
Early this morning we have again handed out washable sanitary pads and soap to teenage girls from our location, with our team member Obedience Akandinda providing them the necessary information.
Update 13. November & 12. December
In Butenga village, two groups of teenage girls have received washable sanitary pads and soap. We thank female councilor of the village, Naum Kyomugisha, for providing the girls the information they need. In Butenga village we have early this year also constructed a rainwater collection system.
In addition to a number of loyal donors, we also thank Dutch ‘Stichting E&TAS’ and ‘Stichting Uden WereldWijd’ for their support!
We want to continue this initiative in the future, but of course it needs donations to do so. On our website you can read under ‘How you can help’ in which ways you can help us achieve our goals.
Every contribution, no matter how small, will be highly appreciated!
We can help a girl for as little as €5,-.
HWMCO-Nederland & NiCA Foundation
‘We Fight Poverty by Bringing Development.’
(updated 13. December 2021)
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