My first project in Kenya was to distribute Days for Girls reusable menstrual kits to girls in need. These kits give girls the freedom and comfort to look after themselves during their periods without being restricted in any way. The aim is to keep them in school to make sure they get the best chance possible to improve their situation. Without these kits girls skip school, use tissues, mud and sometimes cow dung to stop the bleeding. Some girls have to ask boys for money to buy disposable pads and have to put the themselves in danger to get them. For something that is a basic requirement at home these girls struggle a lot for.
My first day in Nairobi I visited 2 schools and 1 children’s home and the next day I visited another school. I was very lucky to be accompanied by a representative from Days for Girls, Christine. She runs her own enterprise in Nairobi, sewing the kits to be distributed. Each kits includes 2 pairs of panties, 2 shields, 8 liners, soap, wash cloth, small carry bag from dirtys and a larger carrier bag for all and to keep them safe and private.
The first school we visited was New Hope Academy in the slums in Choka. We handed out 40 kits to the girls at this school. While we hand out the kits we also teach the girls how they work and how to look after them so that the kits last them 3-4 years! This means that the girls no longer need to be asking their parents for money for disposable pads, a lot of families cannot afford them. Sometimes girls are in a situation where a man will offer to give her money for sexual favours and if the girl is desperate enough for the money for the pads she can be in a very dangerous situation. These kits help to prevent that, empowering them as young women.
We then went to the Good Samaritan Children’s Home in Soweto Kayole slum. There were 30 young girls here that we were able to give kits to. We taught them all about their menstrual cycles, why they get their periods and the beauty of having a baby at the right time. It was a perfect opportunity for the girls to ask any pressing questions and chat with other women about their concerns. Christine is very passionate and connects with the girls to make sure they feel comfortable. Women changes and periods are not often spoken about it, it is a taboo subject so the girls feel like they can’t talk about it with anyone.
Our last school we visited that day was Maximum Impact school in Kayole slum. We spoke to 40 girls here about what a women goes through and the discomforts, changes and beauty of becoming a women. They were so grateful to receive the kits, to have something to help them stay in school. There was one young girl we spoke to by the name of Helen, who had her period at the time we were visiting. She is an orphan, living with her aunt who is not very supportive and so she struggles to have anything to manage her menstruation. She was using tissues to look after herself but still found she was making a mess in her school uniform and felt very embarrassed, because of this Helen would often skip school. She was over joyed to have her new kit and repeatedly said that we must’ve been sent from god as there were other girls in her class with the same difficulties and we were angels for giving them the resources they needed.
I spent the next day at Beyond the Vision Community School in Tassia slum. Tassia slum was by far the worst conditions I have seen and I was heart broken. I was accompanied by Jackie who runs the community school, set up for children whose families cannot afford school fees. I will tell you more about the school later, but it was such an incredible experience.
The girls here were very enthusiastic and responsive when I was talking to them about the kits and menstruation, this is because they were in such desperate need for a solution. They had lots of questions about the pads and their periods. We also talked a lot about being a powerful women, self defence and standing up for yourself as sexual abuse is very high in the slums. The smiles on these girls faces when they received their gifts made me so happy and they skipped around with their new little kits so proudly. I really feel like these kits make a difference to the girls lives and I believe they will use them to them to the fullest to reach their dreams to become surgeons, pilots and teachers!
For more info about Days for Girls and how to get involved:
Help me distribute more kits while I am here: