As of February 2016, we have reached 40,000 girls with ECO-PADS! To test our beliefs on the power of providing access to these feminine essentials we are having teachers monitor the attendance of these girls carefully. So far, feedback from the class teachers shows that only 3 out of every 10 girls we gave the pads has been reported absent from school. This number is very promising, and reflects additional concerns for young females such as the burden of additional housework! Additional feedback from the girls themselves shows that they feel more comfortable and free to attend class during their menstruation.
Susan Kataike of Kabweri Primary School, says that in the past, at the onset of her period, she carried a sweater and wrapped it around her waist to avoid the stares whenever she stood up. She recalls when boys once teased her friend when she soiled her uniform, taunting her that she had “slaughtered a hen”. Now, “Because of Eco-pads, I do not worry because I feel free and I can even go and play during break time with other children because I know blood will not pass through my dress,” reports Susan.
Since we first introduced our peer mentor program, we have been able to train 30 girls as peer educators. As we hoped, they have started speaking to other girls in the schools and community. These girls are endowed with the skills to teach other girls basic hygiene, sexual reproductive health and act as mentors to encourage the other stay in school. These programs have also provided a good opportunity for these girls to work on their leadership skills, and public speaking abilities. We plan to continue and expand this program in the future.
As of March, over 120 teachers and 30 members had participated in the training program. We have been very proud of the success of this program, and have managed to reach four different districts (Budaka, Kibuku, Bukedea and Mbale). Eco-pads is currently partnering with KWA to monitor the progress of the children in the respective schools. Because of the success of past programs, Eco-pads is looking to expand this mentoring program, and our support even further in coming years. Help us continue creating these broad networks of support so that we can prevent girls from falling through the cracks of the educational system!