Module 1 Assignment: Frontlines of My Life

Konda Delphine
Posted February 14, 2017 from Cameroon
Girls at Mabeta Fishing Station after receiving Sanitary Pads from Girls Excel

Like all other children raised by single mothers, I have had my own share of challenges. The biggest of them all was poverty which was a main obstacle in achieving my dreams of getting quality education. Thanks to the support of my mother and community support, I am currently pursuing a second Master degree program in Media, Communication and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.

As I grew up, I have always been inspired by community development because I understand the importance of having someone support you in you to achieve your dreams. I had engaged in different national and international activities promoting women's rights and support young women access education and economic empowerment tools. In 2015, while working in refugee camps in Cameroon with an international organization, I had an encounter that transformed my life and inspired me to start an organization called Girls Excel. While at the refugee camp, I would see girls having their periods and out rightly bleeding out without access to sanitary pads during this monthly ordeal. This pushed me to look within the rural communities around me and I discovered that even Cameroonian girls faced these same challenges without anyone to support them or create access to sanitary pads or menstrual and reproductive health education. This experience forced me to think about the consequences of the lack of quality menstrual hygiene management in Cameroon on the academic, health and professional lives of girls and women. The shame, public humiliation and taboo surrounding this topic and the profound impact that it has on the overall mental and psychological health of girls and young women in rural communities in Cameroon.

Without money or any financial support at hand, I resigned from my job and started Girls Excel (www.girlsexcel.org), a social impact organization that creates access to menstrual and reproductive health education and sanitary pads for girls in rural communities in Cameroon. In the beginning, it was very challenging as people cringed whenever I approached them to talk about Menstrual Hygiene Management. People were very uncomfortable about this topic because of the taboo that is associated with menstrual health. Many people advised me that with my level of education and experience in community management, Girls Excel is not the kind of project that I ought to initiate because it was embarrassing. Sometimes, these conversations left me wishing that I never started the project but I kept on moving ahead, using my savings to promote project activities, purchase sanitary pads and distribute to girls. In 2016, we had tremendous support from the entire Cameroonian online community as we received support through an online donation leading to the distribution of 500 packets of disposable sanitary pads, 150 packets of reusable sanitary pads and underwear for 100 girls in 2 communities in Cameroon.

Today, I am happy that I continued working on the project and supporting the girls who need this support because to see the impact that this project is having in the lives of the girls in the communities in the communities where we work is amazing. I am hoping that through the WP online training, I will be able to incorporate the use of online media in empowering the girls in our communities in learning more about Menstrual and Reproductive Health Education.

How to Get Involved

You can support us by donating to our online fundraising https://www.w4.org/en/project/provide-girls-rural-areas-refugee-camps-ca...

Comments 10

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rosemary_ntoipo
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Dear Konda, this is a very interesting part of your life. It is amazing for someone to leave a paying job to start an initiative for the sake of others (Girls). Am impressed by your strong will to move on despite the challenges you first encountered. This is a great support for girls' education. I love what you have started doing to help keep girls comfortable in school. It takes a great heart to sacrifice for others and serving them like you did at the refugee camps in Cameroon. Thanks again, for helping girls with sanitary pads. Good work keep it up Konda.

Warmest regards,

Rosemary.

Konda Delphine
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Dear Rosemary,

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I know that mine has been a lonely path but I am grateful to all the people who have believed and supported me. I realised that working with these girls gives me more fulfilment than anything else that I have done. I may not be rich but my work changes the lives of so many people in ways that money cant buy.

Rahmana Karuna
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Dearest Konda Delphine,

you are a truly compassionate human spirit of light. i hope your program reaches far and wide. and i hope you do better than the toxic tampons and disposable pads. so many health issues in countries that do have "menstrual hygiene" supplies. During my bleeding years, from around my 20s on, i made my own. from baby wash cloths and baby blankets-absorbent. and have you read the programs on world pulse, where the women are making reusable. and i use to wash them out by hand. how do girls and women in Cameroon care for their used pads? so sorry women's blood is so taboo. HA! must be powerful stuff if men dislike it so much. I look forward to the results of your assignments in this digital opportunity for you. blessings on your path. Know you are enhancing and refining your whole country by speaking this whole topic. "She was warned, never the less she persevered!!" 

Konda Delphine
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Dear Rahmana Karuna,

Thank you so much. Reaching girls even at the global level is also my dream. Regarding the toxic pads, we have come up with a program to start a social enterprise that produces washable sanitary towels unfortunately, we are still having challenges with funding to kick start the program but gradually we will get there. In Cameroon, girls who are fortunate to have access to disposable sanitary pads do dispose of them in the pit toilets, trash bins or throw them in the bush which has its own sets of environmental implications. Girls without access will normally use unhygienic materials and they do their best to wash them but through our program we have a guide and step by step procedure in which we teach girls on how to keep their washable pads clean and infection-free. As the days go ahead, we will address these issues one day at a time. Thank you all for your support. It means a lot to me.

CATHIE
Feb 17, 2017
Feb 17, 2017

Hello Konda,

Thanks so much for the kind and  loving heart you have. Many people hardly abandon their well paid jobs to sacrifice in supporting , naturing and empowering the young ones. Am so proud of what you are doing. Several communities in Africa still regard the issue of menstruation as a taboo that its not spoken about in public. There are scenerios where girls end up requesting for the sanitary towels from their boyfriends or other fellow girls because they fear to talk about it with their parents.  Many parents in Africa give very less time to their children while others just dont have time for them and make their daughters their enemies and as a result many girls are leading very miserable lives because of the parents. My view  is that we need to draw back parents on board and talk to them about their children , a mother should be the best friend of her own daughter and that makes it easy to find out the challenges of these young females and how to resolve them. Once again many thanks and i pray that you continue to expand the project as you transform lives.

Cheers,

Cathie.

Konda Delphine
Feb 17, 2017
Feb 17, 2017

Hello Cathie,

Thank you so much for the encouragement. I swear this forum is filled with women who give me so much strength and inspiration. I should have joined WP long time ago :)

I really like the contribution that you have brought to this discussion and I totally agree with you that mothers especially have made menstruation in Africa such a difficult topic that girls will prefer to seek counsel on reproductive health education from their friends which is really dangerous as these friends are also teenagers with little or no experience. Your contribution reminds me of an event we organized in a vulnerable community called 'Mabeta Njanga' in May 2016, Cameroon. During the discussion, the girls said many of them get pregnant because they were told by their friends that having sex without condoms heals menstrual pains and so most of them did that. Unfortunately, girls as young as 13 years old get pregnant or contract STDs, which would have been prevented with a one of conversation with an adult. Thanks my sister, I will take into consideration this interesting suggestion that you have made.

Together we are stronger,

Delphine

Sophie Ngassa
Feb 23, 2017
Feb 23, 2017

Dear Delphine,

Yes, menstruation matters. Reading your story has widened my perspective and help ed me realize what we have in common as women and how we can together overcome our challenges. 

You story is very inspiring, keep on changing live, waiting for updates.

Konda Delphine
Feb 23, 2017
Feb 23, 2017

Thank you so much sister.

Indeed as women we have somuch in common and only together can we bring change to the world.

Austina
Mar 01, 2017
Mar 01, 2017

Dear Delphine,

God will bless for this! I'm so emotional about this topic. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Blessings to you

Konda Delphine
Mar 02, 2017
Mar 02, 2017

Thank you so much Austina.

We thank God for the opportunity that he has given us to serve.