The Luganda word ‘Ensonga’, translates into English as ‘The Issue’. This name reflects a great concern that for many Ugandan girls, menstruation still poses a genuine issue or problem. Menstruation is associated with stigma, taboos, a lack of appropriate facilities including products, water and sanitation facilities that all hinder girls from maximising their education.
The Ensonga project, supported by the Virginia Gildersleeve Foundation, aims to keep girls in school by improving the biggest issues surrounding menstruation such as lack of MHM(Menstrual Health Management) education, stigma and taboos, lack of sanitary facilities, privacy and appropriate MHM products.
The 2018-19 project commenced with visits to the 4 schools and an inception meeting held at the Wakiso District Education Office. During the school visits we inspected the WASH facilities. We were interested in the availability of hand washing facilities, rain water tanks, talking compounds and the state of toilet facilities at the schools.
Present at the meeting were representative teachers from the four schools who were invited to hear about the planned project. The schools include Rines Secondary School, Balibaseka Secondary School, Kisimbiri Church of Uganda Primary School and Gombe Kayunga Primary School.
Project intends to improve knowledge on sustainable MHM among 3,000 school going adolescents girls through formation of 4 sanitation health clubs and training on reusable sanitary pads. This will be achieved through 4 school sensitization trainings on MHM for boys, girls and teachers, formation of 4 sanitation health clubs, 4 trainings for health clubs on making reusable sanitary pads and provision of 4 sewing machines and training on making pads.
The sustainability of the project will be improved, substituting donating reusable pads with providing schools a sewing machine and training teachers and girls to make their own reusable pads.
Several teachers expressed their excitement to have been selected for the project, and the importance of menstrual health management education in their schools. Some teachers shared stories about their first menstruation experiences. One Senior Male Teacher shared a story about being in Primary School when he heard some of his fellow boys shouting “the girl has touched something, don’t sit near her, she has touched it”. Only later in secondary school he found out about menstruation and realised what his peers were talking about.