Ciara and Tasha's Kenya Diary
Twice a year a group of volunteers from Ireland go out to Kenya to support the community and our team working in Londiani. Every experience is unique and the stories from our volunteers really bring to life the work we do and the impact your donations have. Here is Ciara and Tasha's Kenya diary.
As part of our three week Harambee in Londiani we were fortunate enough to get involved with the Girls for Girls (G4G) programme.
Developed by girls, for girls, the programme aims to make sanitary towels accessible and affordable, to educate communities on proper menstrual hygiene and to reduce the number of girls who miss school every month. Through our involvement with the programme, we can see that this programme is having an impact on girls and women’s lives. G4G is a programme that teaches girls and women about their menstruation and proper hygiene. There is not a lot of education on menstruation around here so this programme really helps in preparing adolescent girls for their first period.
While we were in Kenya, Friends of Londiani opened up the G4Gs programme to the community by running workshops for women of all ages. The workshops strive to encourage women to speak openly about menstruation with both the men and women in their communities and for once and for all to put an end to the harmful taboos present. Being involved in the preparation and running of the first workshop was a great privilege.
Missing out on school and work
We learned that girls miss school during their menstruation and women miss work and other commitments, due to them being embarrassed, ashamed and having a lack of sanitary pads or other means. Sanitary pads are very expensive to purchase locally so most people cannot afford them.
The part of the workshop that we enjoyed most was showing the women reusable sanitary pad packs that they can purchase. These packs contain two pairs of underwear, two waterproof liners, 6 reusable pads, two zip lock bags and a bar of soap. These pads last for 2/3 years and save the women so much money and can solve health problems as well. Every girl and woman we showed the pads to were amazed by them. We demonstrated how to properly clean them and how easy it is. The women are looking at how they might produce these pads themselves in Londiani.
The G4G programme also provides a lot of information such as male and female puberty changes, proper hygiene methods and it teaches the women that they do not have to be ashamed or embarrassed about such a natural thing and that it should never stop them from doing anything in life. G4G teaches them to speak freely about menstruation with everyone in the community. We both believe this is such an amazing programme that will have a life changing impact on so many people. We are so privileged we got to be a part of the first community training workshop to take the programme beyond the schools and reach more girls and women.
Tasha Stack & Ciara Mulry
Harambee July 2016
Tasha said: “I feel that I learned just as much from those women as they did from us. Hearing them share their personal experiences of sanitary towel replacements, for example, hardened cow dung, loose soil and animal hide, was both difficult and eye-opening, especially when compared to the range of products available to me.“
Ciara said: “It was a huge eye opener to me hearing the lack of knowledge and the alternatives to basic menstruation needs that I take for granted in my life. We had several information stations set up and one of them was to find out out what alternatives are used for sanitary pads. I found this the most shocking information of the day. We found out that they used things such as feathers, animal skins, dirt and cow dung. I could not get over it and the fact that they didn’t know about the infections these alternatives could bring. It made me realise how easy I have it, I don’t even have to worry or second think anything when my time of month comes”.