Fatuma Kiyang is a 17-year old South Sudanese refugee who fled to Uganda when the armed conflict destabilized Southern Sudan. She, like many other young girls, have made their home in village A of zone 3 West of the Palorinya Refugee Settlement.
Palorinya Refugee Settlement has approximately 2,221 girls aged between 12 and 17 years who go to school. Due to the lack of menstrual health hygiene materials, the girls find it hard to access clean, and adequate menstrual hygiene materials to use during menstrual cycles, which results in them missing school.
Due to this lack of proper menstrual health and hygiene management, 60% of the girls miss up to three days of school attendance each month, which greatly affects their academic performance. 5% of the female learners drop out of school completely because of lack of decent, adequate, and hygienic materials to use resulting in early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
To address this, Uganda Red Cross Society with support from the German Red Cross and supplementary funding from the Swiss Red Cross, procured 1,458 menstrual hygiene management kits which were distributed to 251 girls residing in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement. Each of the kits included reusable sanitary pads, a bucket, Kitengi, hanging line rope, a bar of soap, and pegs.
Fatuma is among girls who received menstrual hygiene management kits. She comes from a very poor family which cannot afford to buy sanitary pads at 3500/= each packet for the girl during menstruation every month.
Fatuma says, “Before I received the menstrual management kits, I suffered from periods. I used pieces of cloth cut from used fabrics. Blood at times passed through and I had a bad smell. I hid from people for fears of laughing at me which made me miss school during my menstrual days”. She added that “No one was there to provide the pads to use. No soap to bath and used pads were hanged in dirty places for fears of other people seeing them. However, the situation changed when the Red Cross came to my school with the good news of distributing menstrual hygiene kits to selected girls”.
Gune Sylvia, the Senior Woman Teacher at Idiwa Parents Senior Secondary School teaches the students on menstrual health management, mentions that “Fatuma is one of the vibrant and active students who deserved not to miss out on the kits”.
Fatuma now happily attends school regularly without worrying about soiling herself during her periods. She adds that “No one in class including the boys tells when I am in my periods. I concentrate and pay attention to what the teachers teach, and I participate actively in class. The kit helped to boost my confidence. Thank you so much the Swiss Red Cross for the support. The kit has helped to keep me in school, I am no longer worried about dropping out of school because I have hygiene materials to use”.