Girls chatting while in their safe space at the menstrual hygiene room

Girls no longer miss school during their menstrual periods

Nadine 18, is a senior five student at Groupe Scholaire Banda, and also the head prefect of the school. She manages the menstrual hygiene room at the school. This room used to be very small, with no essential materials for the girls to use.

“We had a very small room which was not equipped. Most of the time when girls got their periods at school they had to go back home because there were no sanitary pads to use at school,” says Nadine.

This affected the girls’ attendance because they opted to stay at home out of fear of being embarrassed at school in case they stained their clothes.

Menstrual hygiene is very essential for women and girls and if not managed properly, it can lead to infections. Women are always cautious not to stain their clothes when in public.

Girls in rural setting-like schools are more vulnerable because sanitary pads are not affordable for many of them.

After the construction of a fully equipped new menstrual hygiene room, life became much easier for the girls in the school. The girls school attendance significantly improved and the numbers of those making use of the hygiene room increased, based on the records in the registration book.

 

Menstrual Hygiene room at Groupe Scolaire Banda
The well equipped menstrual hygiene room at Groupe Scolaire Banda 

 

Nadine, poses with a smile showing off the accessories in the room where she educates young girls on menstrual hygiene.

With the room now available in school, the girls feel free to talk about their menstrual hygiene, especially when they need help.

 “When we had just started using the room, some young girls were shy to come and ask for help. I decided to approach them individually and talk to them about menstrual hygiene. I tried to get close to them so that they would feel free to talk to me. Gradually they trusted me. Now they come to me for any help they need regarding menstrual hygiene,” adds Nadine.

Before the establishment of a fully equipped menstrual hygiene room, some girls at this school would pray for their periods never to come, because having them at school was a nightmare.

John Kanyeshyamba 41, the Head teacher of the school, says that the menstrual hygiene room they had before was in a poor state. The school has approximately 650 girls and the room could barely serve a third of them because it was very small and not equipped. Most girls came late to school because they were trying to find sanitary pads or an alternative.

Lack of sanitary towels also led to absenteeism from school among the girls. “If a girl started her periods at school most of the time they went home because they felt uncomfortable staying at school amongst boys,” says John.

Today, everything has changed because the school now has a menstrual hygiene room. Thanks to World Vision, more than 70 per cent of girls pass with high grades because they now attend classes.

 “We have registered a great change in the attendance and performance of girls. This is because they now have the materials they need for their menstrual hygiene at school. Even those that get their periods at school know where to get the sanitary pads,” states John.

Both the Head teacher and Nadine appreciate the support from World Vision. The organisation has been partnering with the school to ensure that the comfort of girls at school is catered for in all aspects.

Groupe Scolaire Banda is a secondary school that sits on a beautiful hill in Jyambere area programme in Rusizi District. The school has more than 1,200 students including 650 girls. World Vision supported the school to construct a menstrual hygiene room and toilets.