Menstruation Time

Sabdio Roba
Posted November 2, 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 menstruation. 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? 

This story was submitted in response to #DayOfTheGirl.

Comments 19

Log in or register to post comments
Jill Langhus
Nov 03, 2018
Nov 03, 2018

Hi Sabdio,

Thanks for sharing your empowering story. Good luck with your story submission!

Olutosin
Nov 05, 2018
Nov 05, 2018

Great job.
Thank you very much for sharing with us.

Adriana Greenblatt
Nov 27, 2018
Nov 27, 2018

Hi Sabdio, thank you very much for sharing this with us, it helps shed a light on something we need to remember. Your story will help many understand the very real obstacles faced by these girls during menstruation including education, social isolation but also the basic real concern for lack of menstrual products.

Sending hugs from Canada,
Adriana

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Dear Adriana,
thank you so much for the encouragement. Interacting with my sisters and sharing their stories makes me happy and optimistic. I hope we will get more resources to support them

Adriana Greenblatt
May 04
May 04

Hi Sabdio! Yes and yes! Great to meet you on here and keep on writing!

Hugs from Montreal!
Adriana

laison sylvie
Dec 27, 2018
Dec 27, 2018

i salute your efforts in promoting the pride of our girls in your community. Am so passionate about this.Ihave a similar initiative in Cameroon.We will get to learn more from each other. Kudos

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thank you dear sister,
I am glad to know you have a similar initiative and it will be great to learn more from you.
Love,
Sabdio

nceducator
Dec 29, 2018
Dec 29, 2018

This is a brave and revealing post regarding a subject most women have no need to fret over, in other parts of the world. I had no idea that sanitary supplies were so hard to come by for girls in Kenya. Please let us know how we in the U. S. might help. Has the situation in Kenya improved?

Thank you so much for the important work you do in improving the lives of girls.

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thank you dear sister,
Sometimes situations in life can make you write/share something you were so afraid to talk about before. I am sharing this because girls are in dare need of sanitary supplies. The situation has not changed much in Kenya, just for those close to town centres but others, especially pastrolist girls are still far behind. You can support with anything that you can, like donating pads/dignity kits or any resource that can make us get them pads and panties.
With love
Sabdio

nceducator
Mar 22
Mar 22

how could we get them to you?

Sabdio Roba
Mar 31
Mar 31

Which state are you in?
Will be travelling to US soon for a learning exchange. We may meet!
Warm Regards,
Sabdio

Immaculate Amoit
Jan 10
Jan 10

Dear Sabdio,

I can relate so much with this piece, thank so much for sharing with us, are near Marsabit if so kindy let me so that I can link you up with a lady that makes reusable sanitary towels which will you help the girls.

Warmest
Immaculate

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thanks dear,
Yeah I am near Marsabit and I will be glad to link up with her. Are you in Nairobi?
Best
Sabdio

Rahmana Karuna
Feb 17
Feb 17

Thank you for sharing. 1960s when my bloodtime came, it was brown in my panties, i thought it was poop smear. my mother helps me put on a belt and pad and off to school. but then i didn't know what to do to go pee in the toilet, i had to ask a teacher and i heard a roar of laughter as i walked away after asking a female teacher what to do. At the beach a friend gave me a tampon, that did't go well either for me. how is it we are so ignorant of our basic womanly needs? i prefer to blame Abraham!!!
so unfortunate that humans feel the need to oppress their creator!! we are all created in our mother's womb. we are so powerful. Somehow if we could open and expand other's minds so they are not repeating the oppressors words.

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thanks dear for encouragement and sharing your powerful and wonderful story. At some point I had to laugh, yeah Abraham has to be blamed!!
I totally agree we are all powerful and created in our mother's womb, I wonder why the so much discrimination and oppression. But I believe our powerful voices will some day be heard.
In sisterhood
Sabdio

Bara'atu Nasidi
Feb 18
Feb 18

this is a very touching article,it also brings up a question that we all need to find a solution to,how do we subsidize sanitary pads and panties for girls that cannot afford much.I would like to connect with you as I have also just started working with young girls.Best of luck

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thank you dear sister,
I agree we need to come up with how we can make pads and panties accessible. Sometimes I wonder how things like condoms are distributed for free and pads sold at prices that not everyone can afford. I will be glad to connect with you as we work together and support girls.
Love
Sabdio

Aurora-Transformation

Hello, I hope that you and your community find solutions and access to menstruation sanitary towels etc.
Menstruation is not a cause of shame, not at all, this socially constructed patriarchal idea must be abolished. Women should feel safe and empowered during their menstruation/periods too.
Keep your voice loud!

Sabdio Roba
Mar 10
Mar 10

Thank you dear sister,
We are working on getting a solution and I hope all will be well. I agree with you that menstruation is not a shame and women should always feel safe and powerful.
Bestt
Sabdio