Menstruation Time

Sabdio Roba
Posted November 1, 2018 from Kenya

Growing up is every girls desire but it has its own challenges and worries. Menstruation time/beginning of a menstruation is a very important time for every girl. Among most girls in my area, it’s a sign of being ready for marriage, for others it’s a period of uncertainty and shame. Periods are termed as unclean and most girls are isolated/” just given time to deal with that women issue.”

I remember as we grew up, we did not understand what period is. Our peers just informed us of some blood coming out of our body for some unknown reason. We really dreaded that moment and eventually when it appeared, a period of fear, shame and isolation came in. You cannot even inform anyone about it. Getting access to pads was a big challenge, actually we didn’t even know what pads are. We had our own management style of using any available material from use of mattresses, to pieces of cloths to use of piece of papers for those in school. You just wake up early in the morning and cut a piece of any mattress in the house to use as a pad if you are lucky enough to have a panty. The mattress is normally cut from below to prevent anybody from noticing you as you cut piece by piece for almost five days of every month. By the time other household members notice that, they will be looking for a serious trap to kill that rat in the house!  Some use piece of cloth, any piece of cloth they find in the house and others especially those in school who are brave enough to attend classes without pads use papers cut out from their exercise books.  Most girls lack soaps for cleaning so the piece of cloth can be renewed for more than a day without cleaning. Others are lucky enough to buy or get access to cotton wool. This normally helps because it is cost effective but most face the risk of it dropping in between daily chaos creating more shame.

A huge percentage of this young girls lack panties as well.  Those looking after animals mostly manage their menstruation by sitting on sand the whole day till sunset, as darkness approaches they walk home as the flow of blood continues. They retire for their night on a dry animal skin which can help in hiding their shame as they wake up early in the morning to start their journey back to sitting on the sand until the cycle is over.

Some prefer to put on three to four dresses on top of each, the outer one normally black to prevent any stain from showing on their clothes but it will definitely flow on their legs all the way to the ground.  

As young girls growing up in a vulnerable pastoralist set up we tried all the above in managing our menstruations. It is not in any way safe for any girl. Period management is very important and affects all girls, from those in school to those looking after animals. Girls need resources and education for managing menstruation. As I work and interact with vulnerable adolescent girls I cannot help but notice their so much need for sanitary materials. Can periods be normalized in all our communities? Can girls/women be empowered on period management? Can we support girls and women get access to Sanitary towels and panties, especially the poor vulnerable ones in the heart of Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas?

Comments 10

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ARREY- ECHI
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Dear Sabdio,
Thank you for this write up. I love the blend of humour in writing about something so serious. Hope the families were able to catch that rate!

Menstrual Hygiene and education is very important. It is saddened to see the obstacles when face in the face of something so natural. May governments and families grow to stop seeing menstruation as a dirty thing and put in places policies o help women during such periods. All the best with your work with young girls and women.
Hugs
Arrey
Arrey

Sabdio Roba
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Thank you so much dear Arrey..despite the challenges in community members, the government is working on providing sanitary materials for girls though the need is just so much.
With love
Sabdio

Jill Langhus
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Hi Sabdio,

Thanks for sharing your sad story. These poor girls and women. I can't believe they live like this monthly. I think having my period is an inconvenience enough, but this takes it to a whole other level:-( Do you help mentor girls and bring awareness around hygiene, menstruation empowerment, and ways to obtain sanitary supplies? I hope so. It sounds like they desperately need it. Are there any NGOs that could support your efforts in this area?

You may want to consider submitting your story for the current story awards, "DayOfTheGirl." This is the link:
https://www.worldpulse.com/en/voices-rising/story-awards/88828

Hope you're having a great day!

Sabdio Roba
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Thank you dear Jlanghus..Hope you are doing great.
Yeah, I mentor girls which includes providing awareness about menstruation management. Our organization also offers safe space training for adolescent girls which covers issues of reproductive health and menstruation management, though there is so much need for sanitary supplies that is still unmet.
Best,
Sabdio

Jill Langhus
Nov 03, 2018
Nov 03, 2018

Yes, I am, thanks:)

How are you doing?

Awesome, what you're doing:-) Yes, I would imagine so.

Are there any NGOs or governmental offices that could help? A fundraiser?

Please keep us posted on your progress, and good luck:-)

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 02, 2018
Nov 02, 2018

Dear Sabdio,

This is heartbreaking. How lucky girls are, to be able to meet with you and finally speak freely about this natural part of becoming a woman. I wish you the best in finding the resources to bring needed pads and materials to the girls you are meeting. A number of WorldPulse sisters have the same priority. You have a lot in common with Marie-Claire Kuja, who has posted some stories on her work. Also, posting in Resources as a Need might bring you some help or ideas. Good luck with such important work!

In sisterhood,
Tam

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Dear Tam,
Thank you for the encouragement. I feel so happy that we can at least talk about menstruation with girls in our different safe spaces. That itself is an achievement in my community and yes I will post in resources,maybe I can get a pad or two

Seka
Nov 05, 2018
Nov 05, 2018

Dear Sab;
Very important as post. This problem is not only at home, we see people who ask the girls left hand greeting each other because we say the right hand is dirty because it is used to make the bath intimate ... What mentality? We are finding a solution to this menstrual problem by making reusable sanitary napkins made from fabric. We hope that it will change the situation ... Courage in your fight because it is very important.
Wear well.
Anma

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Great dear sister,
thank you for the encouragement, update and ideas. I will be glad to know how you make reusable sanitary napkins. Greeting girls using left hand because of a bath is even more absurd...sometimes I wonder how society views women and their needs.

Seka
Mar 14
Mar 14

Thank you very much my sister for your message which is very interesting so these sanitary napkins we make them with fabrics that we buy in Kampala and so here is the link that contains some pictures of these materials. Single-innovation-keeps-girls-in-school-away-from-child-marriage-in-drc. Thank you for our exchange and the pleasure of reading you soon.