Dalitso Lungu
Posted October 9, 2021 from Zambia

I prefer to place certain Taboos aside on behalf of my ancestors who silenced period poverty.

Sadly, I developed a phobia for dirty washrooms from the time I had cramps for the first time, despite being lectured by my boyfriend.

If mom was still alive, she could have butchered my flesh by now because she never tolerated nonsense. I guess she could have thought otherwise.       

One day, I oozed in the heavy flow of a pool of blood in between my legs when I was home alone. In my mind, if I had to lie that they raped me, then I would have found it a challenge to accuse a man from the neighbourhood of faking penetration. I don’t know how it all started. No one ever shared such an experience with me because of me being an introvert. When everything occurred, I had nowhere to run to. If someone was trying to use me as a piece of demonic sacrifice that fateful day, then her misfortune could have been deadly than Armageddon. Lost in thoughts with trauma, the lot of the bathroom was in a mess as it occurred, near my bedroom when bleeding began. As a well-nurtured girl who had no sexual affair with a guy.

My boyfriend truly respected me so much because he had pure intentions from the depth of his heart.  

I called him and explained what had happened and, by angelic speed; he landed in good time.

He cleaned up the mess and treated me like a baby by feeding me with some fast food after I took a warm bath before my cousin could return from work.

So enlightened with science when he articulated about the menstrual cycle and so on.  

When he was still schooling, the dude delved much into reading about the human sexual reproductive system both for males and females. His curiosity to learn about menses was finally sustained. Whatever he wanted to know was for his own good and for future use. I was so impressed that he was such a rare gem with so much knowledge about life.

Being at a boys school for half a decade never gave him a fair chance to have a deep insight on issues dealing with menstruation. Not even co-sex clubs did justice. He had low self-esteem, making me shallow-minded to some extent.

Sadly, when he was in form 2, an integrated science teacher back, then skipped the Sexual Reproduction topic because he was shy by nature.

“you boys, you already know these things. Most of you are grownups, you can learn from each other, hope I have made myself clear?``

Even after some years down the line, I bet to believe that his teacher did not realize that the school was not gender-balanced at all.

However, science wasn’t his thing, but serious issues pertaining to human biology were treated like cherry and icing on the cake.

When he became a little normal and focused after realigning his goals at senior secondary level in form 3, he could spare his leisure by reading biology books, concentrating much on what he missed in past academic years. Since he never dreamt of branching into Natural science deliberately, the boy chose a class that did not have biology to my ignorance, that decision was not well calculated.  

Therefore, he had no option but to teach himself certain things, although his chief interest was on menstruation. Some of his friends would argue that was a girl’s thing for him to give it so much attention, as they found it weird seeing that he was too concerned about such affairs.

Later in the day, we went to a Church concert, and I felt so pressed hence I visited the ladies.  

Oh gosh!

I messed up again until I quickly handled the situation, to make it worse this time it happened at the shanty consistory. The life I endured made it so difficult to accept that I was female and that the cause of the menstrual cycle was natural.

A certain friend from who I was so close to told me how depressed she felt almost committing suicide. For her experience, it happened in the class when she was at a boarding in her eightieth grade at boarding school located 600 KM west of the Capital city. She went the extra mile by cursing the day it happened, but her Guidance Teacher consoled her despite being scolded by immature boys.

But there was something missing about the fight against period poverty, I thought. The most unfair part was witnessing society painted itself with myths and misconceptions about it.

Some suffered badly during that phase without proper hygiene and adequate resources to combat the cause efficiently and effectively.

Eventually, my phobia for dirty washrooms rapidly matured in its audacity. Girls who lived in the slums faced this, but I could really stand the disgusting environment of cleaning my body when I was in my periods.

Finally, after clearing the mess when the thing happened at church, I sat next to a lady who was so vocal in addressing such issues through her organization. She spoke so louder and always provided free sanitary pads in the community while pushing the tampon tax removal agenda.

To my surprise, she was a commercial sex worker. Commercial sex work became a new gold mine in her life such that she could sponsor girls to school, even those in college and university. Suwi never dreamt of seeing other girls going through the trade she was pursuing as a means of survival.

In a broad daylight she looked very responsible, but wearing two skins could not limit her potential to transform someone in that she treated her trade as a separate calling.


Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said history is too long, but justice prevails and as the adage goes in every dark cloud, there is always a silver lining.

Hence, I felt so open to sharing my story with her. She loved my honesty and according to an international magazine, the major source of her net worth came from the clergy and politicians who found pleasure in her erotic dances when campaigns flagged the flow of money as if the youth were pleased by their silent moves of infidelity diminishing public coffers.

The lady could easily influence the positive change that could help the female folk to ease the period of poverty.

Siwilanji’s ending outcome justified the means of her compassion.

In a space of six months, she secured resources to build WASH facilities benefiting a thousand in the community at different locations.

Authorities investigated her intentions, but they could not squeeze so much because of her influence.

I learnt many girls fall prey to sexual relationships just to ensure that they had some money to buy pads and other necessities to manage themselves.

There could be no better time to work hard than seeing some getting infected with Sexually Transmitted diseases. Scrapping their dignity by older men who were ruthless by nature.

The promise I made to myself was never to bend my legs for anyone in the name of fighting poverty.   

By the time I completed my secondary, I challenged myself to help girls who could not feel comfortable addressing menstruation openly. However, my voice was small but louder. Some girls became teen mums because they have known what it meant when ovulation started.

Barely, from that background Suwilanji, had my boyfriend and I pushed to phase period poverty campaign personal.

Having someone to talk to about it strengthened me, and I accepted it was normal. Although handling menses in a dirty environment became my worst villain forever.  

I used hashtags to lobby for funds using social media until one of the Member of Parliament came across my post when I tweeted ` you cannot wash away the trauma of period poverty without water and a good mental health environment`.

He was so impressed and touched with my stance until he invited me to a Parliamentary motel where he dished out an enormous sum of money to sponsor our activities as a foundation.

And that was a new beginning and change in a narrative towards period poverty.  

This story was submitted in response to Day of the Girl: Our Digital Future.

Comments 1

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Jill Langhus
Oct 11
Oct 11

Hi Dalitso,

Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. Is this story from a friend of yours? Does she run a NGO now, by the sound of it?