Rejoice Santo, aged 18 years in Senior three at Nile Model on this International menstrual hygiene day decides to tell her story, to inspire other sisters that are going through difficulties as hers not to give up.
While on a visit to the school last week, we were able to meet Rejoice through one of our focal point teachers of the gender based violence club who explained of a young girl who had come to school to beg that she be given space to study despite not having any money to pay for her school fees.
Innocently she came walking slowly after being called from class to come meet some ladies who wanted to talk to her and just know more about her. She said hello and then we introduced ourselves, where we were from and our intentions too, at first she looked tense and scared but after we started the chat and convinced her that we were her big sisters and she could confide in us because all we wanted is to help her. Thanks to our campaign “I am my sister’s keeper” We are responsible for keeping our sisters and taking care of each other.
She immediately opened up and started narrating her sad story. She said, “My father passed away long time then followed by my mother and so we were left us orphans. My elder brother who struggled to paid my school fees completed her senior four this year in January after which we lost our mum and after that incident our house in Sherikat was also burnt down one night by robbers and so we had no place to shelter ourselves. My brother decided that we go to the village so that he will be able to do charcoal business and enable me to come back to school. His charcoal business was going on well and due to jealousy, he was poisoned and he died. With sadness in her eyes and pain in her voice she said, “ I had no one to stay with in the village so I decided to talk to my uncle who stays in Juba and he asked me to come back and stay with him in Juba. While asked about how she is treated she confidently replied that, “uncle and his wife treats me well, they gave me a place to stay and food to eat though he cannot afford to support me in school and also buy for me other personal items such as sanitary towels, lotion.
Picture: Rejoice Santo smiling at the camera after the meeting with crew staff
Tears filled up my eyes after taking a look at her and seeing that she didn’t have uniform, shoes nor stockings but she was not complaining. She said all she wanted was just to study and an understanding teacher helped her out that is why she was in school now despite her late arrival.
One of my colleague Sony asked her about how she deals with her menstruation when it comes since there is nobody who provides her with sanitary towels and she replied, “I use a piece of cloth and stay home away from school until my menses are done meaning I miss lessons taught for good days and it pains me a lot but what can I do? I asked how she moves to school from Lologo 2 a journey that is about 30 minutes’ drive. She answered, on foot. I start my journey by 11:00 am in the morning and arrive at school by lunch time then my classes start from 2:00pm to 5:00pm and I have to also walk back home.”
Despite the challenges Rejoice was going through, I saw determination, hope and courage in her because while narrating her story she was strong. While speaking to her yesterday I asked her what her message would be to other girls on this day of menstrual hygiene day and she said, “I have to miss classes during menstruation period, because using a piece of cloth is not a guarantee anything could happen and once blood stains your skirt, it will be shameful, but besides that, I am happy that I am getting Education and although it is a struggle because I have to walk a long distance for me it is okay because I believe that once am Educated in the near future all my suffering will come to an end so we should not let menstruation be an obstacle to hinder us from performing well.”
Let us support our girls…