Monday, February 11, 2013

The Pad Project

The Pad Project

Whoa!!! Can’t believe how overdue I am in posting stuff! I seem to have taken a Christmas through February hiatus from blogging. My bad.

In December my friend Elizabeth came to visit my site to bring her pad project to Chikwina.  In Malawi, girls often miss a ton of school when they’re menstruating because they really don’t have an effective way to keep all that under control here.  It only contributes to the lower attendance and academic success of girls (let me remind you that last year in my Form 1 class, I had 25 girls.  My Form 4 class had 3).  Female sanitation is really not a huge topic in schools here, especially since most teachers are men and the topic is taboo anyway.  So Elizabeth taking the initiative on coming up with a solution to this problem, traveling around Malawi and educating women was absolutely amazing.  It was hands-down the most successful 2 days I’ve ever seen here.  Elizabeth, a nurse, was unbelievable with the girls and women who came to her sessions!  Huge hit!

We started our first session with a group of 15ish women at the health center for their prenatal care.  Elizabeth used props and culturally relevant analogies and huge gestures to get her information across, while urging the women to share what they have learned with their sisters and friends.  It was a very hands-on experience for the women.  They loved it.  Afterwards, some of them came to be trained on how to sew their own sanitary pads.

Women sewing pads on my front porch
Later in the day, my Secondary school girls came for their session.  It turned into a riot!  With shouting and laughing and openness.  Elizabeth really reached out to the girls and entertained them as they learned.  They had wonderful questions and they were not afraid to ask her.  On top of the feminine hygiene discussion, we got to discuss why it is important to stay in school and why it’s wrong for a male authority figure, like a teacher, to rape or coerce girls into sex… things no one tells them!  It was such a loud, wonderful time that we attracted a large group of primary school girls passing by on their way home.  Once the Secondary School girls filed out yelling about what they learned, the Primary School girls rushed in to fill the space, yelling and cheering themselves, for an unexpected third lecture.  It was so fun!  Throughout the afternoon we got the message to well over 100 young girls.  How freaking awesome!!

Elizabeth explaining about women's monthly visitor...

Elizabeth making women's monthly visitor a fun game!

Me in a sea of school girls!

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