Orphaned teen girls in Uganda have shared with us that the number one issue they and their contemporaries need help with is finding effective, hygienic and affordable ways to manage their periods so that they are not forced to miss school for a week every month.
When coupled with all the other reasons a girl, particularly an orphaned girl, may miss school or have greatly reduced study time, due to chores and responsibilities in a caregiver’s home, it can add up to a lot of time that these teens are not able to participate in or concentrate on their education.
Enter, our Pads for Girls project.
Store bought disposable pads are costly, not easily available in many areas, and can be a problem to dispose of. LITA knows there are some great manufacturers of re-useable pads, some even with programs designed for an NGO like us, to sponsor/purchase pre-made ‘pad kits’ for give away to girls such as the teens mentioned above.
When LITA met with our first group of 10 girls looking for help with finding solutions, we thought we could use the opportunity to assist the girls with their immediate needs and offer them an opportunity to acquire a lifeskill – sewing/tailoring – along with a healthy, positive dose of self determination and esteem.. all of which could inform and empower them for life.
A program was designed and a pattern chosen with the girl’s input and feedback. LITA donors help to pay a sewing teacher in the community, and to purchase locally treadle sewing machines, needles, thread, scissors, buttons, and 3 types of fabric.. soft flannel, thick absorbent cotton, and ‘breathable’ plastic.
As the photos describe, step by step the girls learn, collectively and individually, how to sew the pads and liners. Within a few weeks each girl had made several pad sets for herself – enough to start off the new school year with – and acquired a new sense of confidence, on a few levels. And, there has been a bonus beneficial component of the project discovered that we had not anticipated. Within the sewing circle, informative and educational discussions take place on reproduction, reproductive health, STD’s, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, gender issues and children’s, girl’s and women’s rights.
We look forward to expanding this project and reaching several other groups of orphaned teen girls in neighboring communities. Thank you for your interest and support for LITA’s Pads for Girls project assisting orphaned teen girls to a self-sustainable future.