News from Rumbek

MCC Supporting Young Women with Dignity Kits

Most girls of school going age across the globe are in their reproductive stage and sanitary towels are a basic need. In most under developed and developing countries, sanitary towels may not be easily affordable and most students may have to survive with a few packets in a school term.

“Here in Loreto, the school identifies the girls with financial constraints and at the beginning of the term, each of them is supplied with some basic needs; sanitary towels, bar soaps, tissue papers and a tube of toothpaste to last a term. The supply is an attempt to sustain them in school by addressing their unmet needs. In the beginning of this term, some needy students were supplied with pads contributed by girls from other Loreto schools in Ireland,” explains Ms. Mary Ogutu, the Head Matron.

In June 2019, MCC donated 500 dignity kits to female students of secondary schools in Rumbek. 316 kits were issued to Loreto Girls Secondary School students and graduates, and about 180 kits will be issued to other secondary schools under the Diocese of Rumbek (DOR).

The dignity kits contain hygiene and sanitary items explicitly tailored towards the local needs of girls of reproductive age. The items include bathing and washing soap, towels, two underwear, a comb, Ziploc plastic bags and 2 re-usable pads with 8 liners made from layers of absorbent fabric all in lovely white plastic bucket.

To facilitate the distribution, four matrons including three teachers (Ms. Milcah, Ms. Ogutu and Ms. Nyasir) and a nurse (Ms. Gloria); and an intern graduate, Rose Ayen, attended a training session on June 12th 2019.

Ms. Debora Abak Jacob, a teacher from the local Comboni Secondary School, and Ms. Mary Arun Malek, a DOR Education Gender Officer were also in attendance. Both will facilitate training prior to the distribution of dignity kits in the other DOR schools.

In the training entitled ‘Days for Girls’, the attendants watched several videos that covered the changes girls undergo from childhood to puberty, menstruation and general hygiene.

During the training, attendants had a brainstorming session and gained more knowledge so as to train the girls on the use of reusable pads.

On Wednesday 13th June 2019, secondary students gathered under a large neem tree in the afternoon, eager to take seeds of wisdom about feminine hygiene.

The school matrons trained them on how to use a menstrual calendar to keep track of their periods, the use of the reusable sanitary towels – describing in vivid steps how to go about it and at the same time how to keep changing and boarding areas neat.

As the facilitators were encouraging the girls and engaging them in a free discussion, some girls also came forward to describe their prior experience using reusable pads, stating that these items were more comfortable and that they were very glad to receive them. The pads are a good deal with the economic crises.

As Sarah Piath of Senior 2 M describes, “These sanitary towels are very good because they can be tacked in the cups hence keep intact. They are comfortable and light too as one only needs to wash the liners and not the whole pad like the ones I’ve used before. One can keep alternating with the disposable pads hence reducing the number of times you need to purchase because they are expensive, with a packet going for about 300 SSP.”

For others who haven’t used these pads before, the narration from their sisters on the comfort of these pads and their ability to be used over and over again stirred their urge for this experience.

“I have not used these pads before. I’m eager to use them and I’m already feeling like I’ll love them. From the demonstrations they are good and comfortable to use. The towels and soap are also very good. ” Grace Akech of Senior 1E reported.

After the discussion, each student, and the Loreto Intern graduates, received a dignity kit. This encouraged the girls to feel involved as their elder sisters (the graduate interns) also received kits. To add on this, they will relieve many girls’ burdens and girls will enjoy the comfort in school. Besides, these eco-friendly pads will reduce the amount of waste produced, as students will supplement disposable pads hence using less.

One of our senior graduates, Ms. Josephine Nyanajong Meen explained, “It is helpful in supporting girl child education as girls will be comfortable in school. It gives psychological support to the girls as their skirts would not get stained and they are comfortable in classes. Some of the secondary school girls are already using them and there is a need for primary girls to receive as well. The use of reusable sanitary towels encourages us to improve general hygiene.”

All the beneficiaries were very grateful for these feminine hygiene products. “We are grateful to those who sent us the items. May God bless them,” says Christine Arual Diu, Senior 3W.

While participating in Listening Circles facilitated by the MCC-sponsored Loreto Peace Club, our Primary 7 and 8 girls have stated that some of them remain at home for a few days during their periods when they cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins. We hope that this pilot project in the secondary school will result in the provision of dignity kits for these girls in the near future.

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