By Juliet Rogers & Melvin Sharty
“Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.” — Dorothy Height
Our second roll of the sanitary pads distribution project was implemented at “Wi Yone Foundation School, located at the extreme end of Kroo Bay Slum Community, with support from a fine anonymous humanitarian who happens to be a lady. Girls in the forenamed school, who have started seeing their periods benefited from the rolled project and were very grateful.
In accordance with a research document authored by Badru Walusansa, a Commonwealth Correspondent, “Menstruation can be traumatizing for many girls in school, especially those experiencing it for the first time. For instance, before the onset of menstruation, adolescent girls can experience tension, low-esteem, depression, tiredness and irritability – all the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, which affect the way adolescent girls relate to other students in school and their teachers.”
A report by UNESCO dated in 2011 estimated that ‘two in every ten adolescent girls in African societies miss school during their menses and eventually drop out of school because of menstruation related challenges such as: The inaccessibility of affordable menstrual sanitary protection materials, the societal taboos tied to menstruation, and the silence culture that surrounds it.’
In 2013, New Vision newspaper in Uganda put forward a survey paper which states that: “30 percent of girls leave school for lack of sanitary pads, and that the topic of menstruation, especially in rural societies, is discussed in hush up tones.”
In this connection, at present, we are using some of the principles (action areas and strategies) set in the Ottawa Charter to promote the menstrual health of girls in deprived slums communities in Freetown. We are strengthening community action in slum communities through the empowerment of school going girl by providing them with sanitary pads that have wings, and by talking to them about the essence of menstruation and why they should stay in school during the time of their periods and not feel shy about it.
As Woodrow T. Wilson has written: “There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.”