Welcome to highlights from activities during the month of May … programmes continued throughout the month with Community Health Volunteer training, Business Training and supporting groups with resources, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights workshops for students.
BUT most of all MAY WAS A MONTH OF CELEBRATIONS!….
“Menstruation has always been with myths and taboos and it has always been said it is only a ‘women’s matter’ but the word menstruation itself .. can we spell it the first three letters .. M E N ..so we need men in our lives, you are in ‘our boat’ .. we say this together ..don’t stay outside, we need all of you in our boat so we can be able to dispel the myths and taboos surrounding menstruation, so that the women and girls have what they need, they can be able to access reusable sanitary pads, they can be able to access health in our communities. Men welcome on board … from the word Menstruation .. you see you are there .. we are all in that journey. Welcome men on board and let us be able to shine a light on inequality and say ‘We Are Committed to Ending Period Stigma’”.
Words from Sonia Cheruto, Field Officer in our Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights programme speaking at celebrations last Saturday marking International Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is a global advocacy platform that brings together non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual health and hygiene (MHH).
More specifically, MH Day aims to –
- Break the silence, raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding menstruation
- engages decision-makers to increase political priority and create action for MHH at global, national and local levels.
- Mobilise the funding required for action at scale.
Brighter Communities Worldwide works hard all year round to break the taboos surrounding menstruation and to raise awareness about the challenges facing girls and women when they don’t have access to education, menstrual products and decent sanitation facilities.
Celebrating the day provides us with the chance to come together to show our commitment to making menstruation a normal part of life for all of us – it’s no longer ‘womens’ business’ it’s ‘community business’.
This was very clear during celebrations at Londiani Township school on June 3rd when 500 students from 13 schools gathered for workshops and games, learning about menstrual health, discussing issues, seeing the reusable sanitary kits and how to use them. To show our commitment to #EndingPeriodStigma, we made menstrual bracelets – these are the global symbol for menstruation. The bracelet has 28 beads representing the average length of the menstrual cycle with 5 of the beads in red to represent the average length of a period.
Students, teachers, representatives from the Ministry of Health, Geoffrey Kigen and Ministry of Education, Vincent Langat, Ambassadors for the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights programme, staff and visitors from Brighter Communities Worldwide were entertained with songs and poems from different schools following the Menstrual Hygiene Day theme #WeAreCommitted. Speeches from students, teachers, Ministries, staff and volunteers invited all present to confirm their commitment to #EndPeriodStigma.
One highlight was the involvement of the boys who took part. Quoting 2 boys who spoke on behalf of Londiani Township and Londiani Boys High school .. “we now understand there are some things we can do to help our girl child and we say to you today, see how your brothers have come to help you” and “it is our duty to provide for our girls and daughters the necessary materials – if we provide for them menstruation will be alike any other biological process in our bodies. It is time to come together so that we can achieve equality in our society”.
The month of May was full of celebration as we launched our 20 year Impact Report on May 7th during a very special celebration at Chepseon Secondary school with over 600 people including students, representatives from across all communities we work with, county government, Ministries of Health, Water, Education, Gender, BCW staff, volunteers and representatives from the Irish Embassy. It was a day that will be remembered for many years to come. Ms. Caroline Nganga, Programme Officer from Embassy of Ireland Nairobi, said it was such a joy to see what Brighter Communities Worldwide has done and that the work speaks for itself in the photographs, the displays in the room and what individuals from the community shared with the audience.
Brighter Communities Worldwide were privileged to be invited by Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan to celebrate our 20 year anniversary at the Irish Ambassador’s residence in Nairobi on May 18th. We were joined by the Irish Embassy team, friends and supporters, senior staff members of Brighter Communities Worldwide, visitors from Ireland and the Marafiki Wa Londiani – the very first women’s group we worked with in 2002.
We are very grateful to Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan and the Irish Embassy in Kenya team for working tirelessly to create such an unforgettable evening. We were humbled by the praise, appreciation and compliments for the work we do and the impact of what has been achieved in the last two decades.
|If you’ve not already seen it, we invite you to click on our 20 year impact report. Maria Kidney said on the night, “every number is a person, part of a family and part of a community. Brighter Communities Worldwide is a story about people and that includes all of you who have opened your hearts and your homes to the organisation. The impacts we have had would not be possible without your support and we thank you for sharing our vision and sharing our dream”.
UCC Student Denise Kelleher has been on placement with Brighter Communities Worldwide since March. This month she is spending time in Kenya and involved in the sexual reproductive health and rights programme and menstrual health day.
As one of the speakers at the Menstrual Health day, Denise said – “We need to ensure that every young girl, every woman, every individual does not grow up with the stigma and inaccessibility that comes with a normal and healthy process of the human body. You may not menstruate yourself, but I’m sure somebody you love does maybe a family member, a friend, or a classmate. It is with passion, courage, and kindness that we take our next steps into the battle of improving menstrual health, appreciating that we are the future and that we have the knowledge and the bravery to make a difference in menstrual health”.