Kenya (MNN) — Cultural taboos prevent thousands of young girls from continuing their education in Kenya. In remote villages, it’s considered shameful to talk about menstruation, so moms don’t warn their daughters about the changes that occur during puberty.
When their first period arrives, “girls are caught completely unaware; they don’t know what’s happening to them, and, of course, they think maybe they’re dying,” Joy Mueller of Kenya Hope says
“Period poverty” describes girls’ lack of education and resources to understand and manage menstruation. “Typically, 65 percent of young women in Kenya struggle to purchase any sanitary product,” Mueller says.
“[As a result,] she can’t go to school because she has her monthly cycle and doesn’t have any means to deal with it. She has to stay home,” Mueller continues.
“A lot of times, these girls just drop out of school because they’re missing so much every month.”
As part of Kenya Hope’s Girls on a Mission program, Dignity Kits provide a sustainable, low-cost fix. Each kit contains ten pads, three pairs of underwear, soap, and washcloths.
“The solution we came up with is very economical; it keeps the girls in school, and it gives them back their dignity,” Mueller says.
Volunteers in the West “sew washable, reusable sanitary pads that made of flannel. [The pads] snap onto the girls’ underpants. [Since the girls] can wash and re-use them,” the materials help young women stay in the classroom, Mueller says.
Kenya Hope partners with churches and schools in rural Kenya to distribute Dignity Kits. Believers share life-changing truths at each distribution.
“We begin talking to the girls about how they are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God,” Mueller says.
“From there, we address the issues of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriages, and early pregnancies.”
Header image depicts believers speaking to young female students at a Dignity Kit distribution. (Photo courtesy of Kenya Hope)