Reusable Menstrual Pads Training
The Ensonga Project is an ongoing project aimed at teaching primary and secondary school students about their menstrual health. The project equips students with the practical skills to make their own menstrual pads. The project is run across ten schools in the Wakiso district, last week we visited three schools for training sessions. These schools were at different points in their training, yet all of them had made progress since their last session.
St. Aloysius Kyengera Primary School
The first school we visited, St. Aloysius Kyengera Primary School, was on their second training session. During this session, we assessed the students’ ability to work the sewing machines. Some of the more adept students even began threading the machine and sewing some lines on scrap fabric.
Despite leaving the first session with only a few students trained, the second session showed great progress. We returned to find that the majority of the students were comfortable and confident working the machine. The progress we witnessed highlighted the success of our peer education system. Peer education is a system implemented here at Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU). It is aimed at using the education of a few to reach the masses. By educating a few students we are able to educate the rest of the project’s beneficiaries through the sharing of knowledge, information, and skills.
Nanziga Public Primary School
The second school we visited, Nanziga Public Primary School, is one of the most disadvantaged and needy schools that are targeted in this project. The group size was small, less than ten girls, with the students eager to learn and happy to be making their own menstrual pads.
Visiting the school for their third training session, we found that each of the students had sewn together at least one pad. The student’s commitment to the project is clear with some making more pads during the time we were away. The aim of this session was to teach the students how to make a small bag which will be used to house their menstrual pads once complete.
The students in this group were very confident using the sewing machines. Some even using the skills they had learnt in the first two sessions to mend their school uniforms. Though an unintended benefit of the project, witnessing the students use their initiative and their newfound sewing skills practically to aid them in their everyday life was fantastic to see.
Abdul Rahman Bun Auf Islamic Institute
The students at the third school we visited, Abdul Rahman Bun Auf Islamic Institute, were very eager to learn the necessary skills to succeed in this project. The students were very confident with the machines and were happy to help one another with fixing them and giving advice if something did not go to plan. As a secondary school, the student’s need for affordable menstrual products is greater. These older students were keen to make their own reusable menstrual pads. Being able to make their own reusable pads will make menstrual health and care cheaper and more accessible.
Overall, this week’s visits to schools as part of the Ensonga Project proved very successful. Despite only just beginning their journey towards fully well-rounded sewing ability, the students have proven themselves to be capable, committed, and concentrated on succeeding.
The need for many of these students to make their own reusable menstrual pads is a top priority. In Uganda period poverty is a very real challenge faced by young girls. The challenges of menstruation are a cause for many young girls to stop going to school. While ordinarily, school absenteeism sits at 7% for girls, this rises to 28% while they are on their periods. The ability to make sanitary products for themselves will help to keep these young girls in school. By staying in education the young students are bettering their opportunities later in life. Having the skills offered by the Ensonga Project will allow these young girls to make menstrual health and care more accessible. By sharing their knowledge and skills the aims of the Ensonga Project will spread across communities.