Media Matters for Women (MMW) recently launched its third year of leading the 12-week Period Power Project (PPP), an innovative program that teaches teenagers about menstrual health and hygiene. PPP has been integrated into the curriculum at 30 schools across Sierra Leone.
Students listen to podcasts produced by MMW senior journalists, discuss what they learn with sexual health nurses and learn how to make reusable sanitary pads from their home economics teachers.
MMW encourages all students to attend PPP sessions to understand women’s health issues to care for themselves as well as family and friends.
The reach of this project goes far beyond informing girls about their reproductive health. MMW also dispels widespread misinformation, informs communities about critical health issues and provides economic opportunities for entrepreneurial youths such as Amara Fofana.
Fofana, who attended previous PPP sessions, saw an opportunity: Using the skills he learned during the project, Fofana, began to sew reusable sanitary pads in the fall of 2022. An orphaned teenager living in the Makeni district of Northern Sierra Leone, he’d learned to sew years ago.
Fofana sews sustainable and hygienic menstrual pads for his community. He charges only 4 leones (about 0.02 cents) per piece; the profit goes toward his basic needs and school fees. Without his enterprising work, this bright young student would have to drop out of school. Fofana has a big heart: When his classmates bring their own fabric, he sews their pads for free.
“When I first started, it was challenging to get sales because some girls were buying the disposable pads,” Fofana said. “But once they realized that the reusable pads could serve them longer, they switched.”
Fofana is waiting to proceed to senior secondary school, after passing the recent national exams in Sierra Leone. He is “very grateful to MMW for the knowledge,” he said.
MMW’s successful Period Power Project continues in schools across rural Sierra Leone, improving young peoples’ knowledge about reproductive health and equipping them with the skills to take care of themselves and others.