Ryculture Health and Social Innovation partnered with JKUAT Medical Students’ Association (JKUSMA), Ladies Heart, Proud Flow, SCORA Kenya, Embrace Hers and Kiambu County through the Juja sub-county School Health Programs office for a menstrual hygiene management training and mentorship session for Gachororo Secondary School Students on 28th May 2019. This was to mark World Menstrual Hygiene Management Day and based on the fact that most ladies face challenges in accessing menstrual hygiene management materials i.e. sanitary towels especially those from poor backgrounds. This affects their schooling as they may not attend school during their periods, others experience humiliation with psychological torture when they get their menses in school when not ready and they soil their clothes. In certain cases, it may not be as a result of poverty but lack of knowledge on how to use the sanitary materials.
Our objectives for the session were to:
Educate the school girls about menstrual hygiene management and present with alternative methods i.e. single use sanitary towels, reusable pads, tampons and caps.
Create awareness around menstruation with the boys and fight shame associated with menstruation especially when ladies soil their clothes unawares
Invoke the students to take responsibility and support the female students during their menstrual periods
Motivate students to take their academic work seriously, foster integrity and brotherhood/sisterhood among the students.
The menstrual hygiene management sessions were conducted by a group of trainers who had been facilitated by SCORA during a workshop earlier. They went to extremes to demonstrate the use of different menstrual hygiene management materials such as caps, pads and tampons. They also discussed the aspect of responsibility for other students’ well-being among the ladies as menstruation is a normal biological process that doesn’t need to be shameful. The session was conducted exclusively for ladies.
Parallel sessions on menstruation were conducted with the boys of which these were centered on the stigma and shame that is widespread among the boys. Most cases being the boys do not comprehend as much as well as being young people they find humor in teasing their female classmates who soil their clothes during their menstrual periods. This psychologically affects the ladies and may have debilitating consequences to them. Academic performance may be affected as social relationships which will ultimately culminate in a poor quality of life out of stress. Key was for them to be socially responsible for each other.
Mentorship sessions were conducted in the different groups as well with a focus on discipline, time management, self-confidence and academic performance. It was made clear during the sessions that it is important that the students put effort in their academic work as much as they could but it was even more important to get an average grade with integrity. It makes one feel proud and fulfilled in their efforts rather than the current wave on cheating which may make them strive for quality grades that do not clearly represent their potential. This would later affect them in life and as such key is to help each other through their studies and to be of integrity.
As they study it was also made clear that they need to have a reason and a goal at the end of it. This would be in terms of careers they would wish to pursue which would also determine the scores they needed and thus a motivating factor for them in studies.
Self-confidence being closely linked with individual abilities, it was reiterated that it’s normal especially among the boys to second guess themselves at this phase in life but what is more important is knowing what they want. It was explained that they needed to speak up and express themselves to get the necessary support they needed, share ideas and opinions they have for there is room for learning through that.
“Do your best with whatever you’ve got and that will get you to where you deserve to be. You’ll be at peace knowing you did the best you could at every moment of the way.” -Anonymous