by MMW Senior Journalist Ndeamoh Mansaray
Media Matters for Women’s second Period Power Project commenced at the end of October. Ten schools participated as part of a three-district partnership. The project supplied equipment and materials included two rolls of materials, scissors, boxes of threads, needles, buttons etc and detailed handouts on menstruation and sanitary hygiene for each school. A total of 573 pupils participated in the training, with 487 girls and 86 boys for all ten schools in the region. Both female and male teachers showed high interest in learning how to sew the pads and they used that same zeal to engage their pupils in the process and most especially that they were all determined to win the competition that took place at the end of the two-month project.
The pupils learned about sewing the pad and also had the opportunity to learn more about their reproductive health and menstruation through the handouts and the engagements with the district nurse. The nurse’s engagement was very interactive as it was done in the Krio language. Through these engagements, the students learned that some local existing ideas about menstruation and hygiene were incorrect. Girls as well as boys were able to ask questions based on their experience. The project, though short, was a success. It has inspired most of the schools to revive Home Economics classes, something which had been discontinued due to lack of equipment. The competitive event required students to questions on menstruation and hygiene. Most of the pupils were able to answer the questions they were asked which showed that the handouts were useful.
The impact of the project was also captured in the teachers’ end of project report. The principal, who is also head of
the Home Economics department at the St. Raphael’s Catholic Junior Secondary School, Nancy Y. Kamara stated in her report, “The initiative of making reusable sanitary pads have a positive impact on the pupils. Developing such a skill is necessary as disposable pads are now expensive.” She went further to say, “The lecture given by the midwife was detailed and that has given these pupils more understanding as to how they should take care of themselves and the pads for the prevention of infections.” She added that “the pad sewing skill is a life skill which the pupils can benefit from for a life time and even makes it a self-sufficient skill; helping others at home and their community. Fatmata Beatrice Lebbie of Evangel Baptist Junior Secondary School reported positively about the impact of the project, highlighting the following as some of the outcomes of the training in her school:
- Pupils are no longer using unhealthy piece of cloths as menstrual pads.
- Girls can now make their menstrual pads.
- The project has changed myths/taboos and so boys can also talk about menstruation confidently.
- Boys can make menstrual pads.
- It created social interaction among schools in the district.
Samuella Tagba of Yealima Junior Secondary School said, ‘I am so happy for the training and I also want to teach my colleagues to learn how to sew it because now pads are very expensive. Since the training, when I go to school I now go with two bags, one is where my books are, the other is where the pad sewing materials are. During games and sport period, I teach my friends who are free and have time to sew the pad.’ Dora Coker is a pupil from St. Raphael’s Catholic school stated, “I feel so good to have participated in the training of learning how to sew pad in my school because it is not everybody that has the money to buy pads these days as they are very expensive. But if you already have the skill to sew your own pad it saves money.”
Overall, the Period Power Project was of great help to the girls in the district and the teachers think that it helped to keep them occupied after school and to be aware of issues surrounding their reproductive and menstrual health. The competition also created the platform for the pupils to gain confidence. It has also laid the foundation for them to participate in other academic competitions. Most of the pupils had not previously had the opportunity to visit the district headquarters. As one of the teachers mentioned in her report it also gave the opportunity to teachers and pupils to interact with each other, introducing them to effective study habits.
The schools that benefited from the project were:
- St. Raphael’s Catholic Junior Sec. School, Waterloo
- Nelsal Academy, Lumpa
- Mohanard Jondy Islamic Sec. School, Camp Junction, Lumpa
- Huntingdon Vocational Junior Sec. School, Foofoo Wata, Newton
- Evangel Baptist Junior Sec. School, Coal Town, Waterloo
- Kankailay Islamic Sec. School, Cole Town, Waterloo
- BASH Memorial Junior Sec. School, Lumpa
- ZODA International High School, Mabureh, Waterloo
- Modern Excellence Academy, San San Wata, Massantigie
- Yealima Secondary School, Masorie