Menstrual shame hurts Kenyan girls; sanitary products offer hope

By December 12, 2019

Kenya (MNN) — Lack of sanitary products for Kenyan girls on their menstrual cycles is a major problem. Only 1 out of 10 girls in Kenya have access to sanitary products.

The result is a domino-effect of hardship for Kenyan girls.

Joy Mueller with Kenya Hope says, “Some will resort to prostitution so they have some money to purchase them. Others will go through the garbage to try and find used ones, and of course, that means there’s infection and all sorts of sanitary issues with that. Others just plain drop out of school because they don’t have these products to keep them in school, which of course leads to a lot of teen pregnancies and early marriages.”

black girl, sad, shame

(Photo courtesy of Nick Owuor via Unsplash)

Even if some girls don’t drop out of school altogether, they still face challenges when they are absent from school while on their period.

The average Kenyan schoolgirl misses 4 out of 28 days per month – around two weeks every term – because they don’t have sanitary products. This impacts their ability to test well and go on for higher education.

Menstrual Shame

Shame further pervades the topic of menstruation for these girls because they aren’t always properly educated on these bodily changes. Sometimes a girl doesn’t even know what is happening when she starts her period. It can be very frightening and embarrassing.

Recently, a teenage schoolgirl in Kenya was publicly shamed by a teacher for getting her first period in class. She didn’t know what was happening and didn’t have any sanitary products. 

“It was such a severe shaming that when she went to her home, she ended up committing suicide and this made headlines in Kenya,” Mueller says. “There is a real stigma and shaming of girls over their menstrual cycles.”

Girls on a Mission

Through Kenya Hope’s program, Girls on a Mission, they provide high-quality, washable, reusable sanitary products for Kenyan schoolgirls and teach them their value in Christ.

(Photo courtesy of Kenya Hope)

The ministry recently distributed over 400 sanitary packets in Kenyan schools. Each sanitary packet has 10 pads and three pairs of underwear.

Mueller says, “Some of the teachers shared with us that now that the kids have started their long school break, they are out of school and will not return till January. They’re really concerned for the girls because many of them are coming from very poor areas…and just not knowing when they return in January if those girls will be back in school or not.”

However, with access to these reusable sanitary products, these schoolgirls in Kenya will have one more reason to stay in school.

“It’s very, very humbling to go into these schools and see the joy and delight on these girls’ faces to receive a packet that’s full of pretty colors and frilly underpants. Every girl around the world likes to feel pretty,” Mueller says.

“This has revolutionized our schools and given our girls dignity to stay in school and continue with their education and not fall behind.”

(Photo courtesy of Kenya Hope)

Kenya Hope also goes into schools and teaches girls about their menstrual cycles, bodily changes, and how to use the sanitary products.

“We also talk a lot about hygiene practices, and also other social issues that are facing them — whether it’s early marriage or female genital mutilation, all these issues that are frontline for these girls — and we try to focus on them in a biblical manner,” Mueller says.

“We really focus too on the beauty of God’s creation that’s us as women and that each of us are unique. Our bodies are all different — some of us are tall, some of us are short, some of us are more shapely, others are not — and it doesn’t matter because we were made in the image of God and we are all beautiful.”

Help Restore Dignity and Hope

When you support Kenya Hope’s Girls on a Mission program, you’re not just making a girl’s menstrual cycle more tolerable. Your donations help that girl stay in school, go on for higher education, avoid early pregnancy and marriage, and know the love of her Heavenly Father.

The ministry can always use more flannel donations to make the pads. Financial donations also go towards other materials and costs for the sanitary packets.

Click here to give to Kenya Hope!

(Photo courtesy of Kenya Hope)

Mueller says they also have several volunteer groups that give their time to sew the sanitary products.

“We have a group in Chicago, a group in New York, one in California, one in Oregon, as well as at our office that come help us sew. Our ladies typically meet every third Thursday in our office in Hudsonville, Michigan to help cut out the patterns, to sew, [and] to package them.”

You can contact Kenya Hope here to ask about volunteering!

Meanwhile, please pray for girls receiving these sanitary packets on Kenya. Pray that they will stay in school and ultimately find their dignity, beauty, and joy in Christ.



Header photo courtesy of Kenya Hope.

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