Even when menstruation is a universal experience throughout the world, girls in rural areas and some resource-poor towns in Kenya still experience challenges during menstruation.
Menstruation continues to be a major factor in school absenteeism and dropouts as most schools in rural Kenya still don’t have enough resources available for menstruating girls and also don’t have sufficient water access, facilities for pad disposal or cleaning, sanitary towels, extra clothing and good latrines necessary for the privacy of these young girls. Pain and lack of access to pain medication for menstrual cramping also hinders school attendance and lack of information of such issues also makes it difficult for the young girls to thrive in school.
One such school is Chongonyi Primary School. Located approximately 30 kilometres from Bungoma County, the school is but one of the institutions facing this problem. With a total population of 510 pupils, the infrastructure at the school was inadequate to serve all the students, leaving six children sharing a desk in every class, which made learning quite uncomfortable.
In addition, the girls pit latrine at the school had collapsed, forcing all 510 pupils to share 4 pit latrines which poses sanitary and health risks and lack of privacy and decency for the pre-pubescent and menstruating girls.
Joan Khaemba, the headmistress at the school, saw and felt the plight of these young girls and shared her dream with Safaricom, to create a more conducive environment for her students, by providing more desks and a proper pit latrine for the girls.
Goodstructural integrity, locks and cleanliness play an intergal part of any washroom/latrine and having to share these facilities with all these students and not having rooms specifically meant for the girls, makes the girls feel less clean, less confident and comfortable as they go through their cycles.
With the help of Safaricom and the Ndoto Zetu campaign, the girls at Chongonyi Primary School can now breathe easy and confident even as they go about their day to day lives.