Majority of adolescent girls in South Sudan miss about five school days every month due to menstruation. With the current economic crisis, the prices of sanitary towels have tripled, and on days when a girl unexpectedly gets her period at school, she is sent home because they don’t have sanitary towels in store for such an emergency. As a result, she misses that day’s lessons. No child deserves to miss school due to a normal physiological bodily function. Lack of Menstrual Hygiene Management services (MHMS) is among many major obstacles stunting completion of both secondary and primary school at a low level.
Crown The Woman-South Sudan (CREW) has been able to reach out, provide Menstrual Hygiene Education and distribute menstrual hygiene kits to 889 girls last term in six primary schools and three Secondary schools in Juba namely; Kapuri, Comprehensive, Yenet, Dr. John Garang (Bilpam road), All Saints and Brother Augusto Memorial Primary School, Promised Land, Don Bosco and Dr. John Garang Memorial Secondary School (Konyokony) among others. This was possible through CREW’s mentorship programs under the theme; “I am my sister’s keeper campaign”. The focus was on puberty and menstrual hygiene education, conducted by Dr. Ayak Chol Deng, an epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health, Dr. Koiti Emmily from Juba Teaching Hospital who is also youth representative to the Joint Monitoring & Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and Aluel Gai Mayang a medical assistant as well as nurse from Aspen Medical South Sudan.
The medics took the girls through menstrual hygiene management from Female Reproductive Health to menstruation and best hygiene practices. They further taught/demonstrated how to use and dispose a sanitary towel. CREW ended these Menstrual Hygiene education sessions with distribution of menstrual hygiene kits that included three packets of sanitary towels, two bars of washing soap per student (girl) and two trash bins per school for proper disposal of used sanitary towels.
CREW brought three mentors/motivational speakers to talk to the girls. Among them was Merekaje Lorna; previously awarded by CREW for her contribution towards shaping peace in South Sudan. Merekaje Lorna; the Secretary General of South Sudan Democratic Engagement and Monitoring Program (SSuDEMOP) encouraged the girls to stay focused in school and continue to study and finish as education is the only insurance a woman has. Lorna stayed and interacted with the girls at the end of every session and exchanged contacts with some girls who were inspired by her. They requested Ms Merekaje to be their personal mentor. Atong Malual, a lawyer by profession and Suzan Tingwa, a mentor from EVE Organization for Women Development were two other mentors who covered the Primary schools.
During these programs, CREW left 22 reading materials in each of the three secondary schools’ library. The books included personal development, self-help, adolescent health and motivational books to mention but a few. It is hoped that utilization of these books by the girls will boost their self-esteem and enhance understanding of the changes happening to their bodies. Ultimately a culture of reading will be promoted among the girls.
Furthermore, CREW distributed sports items; volleyballs, netballs and fixed poles, in three secondary schools with the aim of creating sports friendly spaces for the girls to encourage them to participate in sports and promote peace. For those who play together, stay together.
It was a better school term for the girls. This is owed to support from the German Embassy-South Sudan and FRIDA.