The news out of Somalia is so often bad, which makes it extra nice to hear the heartwarming story of how a project there is using sanitary pads to change lives. In an area of Somalia where there are many settlements for internally displaced people, a wonderful-sounding program has found a way to provide girls with sanitary pads and also to provide much-needed employment for the girls who are hired to sew the pads.
The original problem was that the girls who attended school at the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development (GECPD) were missing class when they got their periods because access to sanitary pads was basically non-existent. Some girls would improvise using paper and leaves, but, as you can imagine, that was not very effective and often kept them from going to school. This caused them to fall behind in classes and in some cases even drop out completely. Hawa Yusuf Ahmed, the program's coordinator, said,
We started this project to show the girls that they can manage their periods and make sure they don't miss classes or drop out.
A great secondary benefit of the program is that it's given employment to 60 local girls—many of whom arrived there after fleeing violence in south-central Somalia—who make the cloth sanitary pads. The girls turn out packages that contain six sanitary pads and two pairs of underwear, which are given both to the students at GECPD and residents of the displaced-person camps in the area. The locally-produced pads and underwear are much less expensive than if they were to be imported, and they can also be washed and reused.
Bureqo Ali, a 17-year-old who is employed by the project, had this to say about its effect:
Previously, many of girls were too embarrassed to admit they had their period and would not come to school or work; those days are over. We are wearing them and making a living out of it. It is a wonderful feeling.
It must be. Never take your Always for granted again!
Somalia Sanitary Pads Project Gives Girls A Boost [The Guardian]
Image via Abdi Hassan/IRIN.