MOROTO – When government opened lower classes after total lockdown that had resulted from the prevention of the spread of covid 19, 14-year old Sarah Nangiro – primary six pupil of Longalom primary school in Napak district, was eager start her studies but after two weeks, she started receiving her menstruation periods.
Sarah had no single pad and as a result, her uniform got soiled – leading to untold humiliation as she became a topic amongst her peers.
The stigma that Sarah went through for three more days, nearly forced her to drop out of school. Luckily enough, the day she was given permission to go home and seek for assistance, was the same day that the Afripad team arraived at her school to start the distibutgion of pads to girls.
“I was so happy when I saw the banner; ‘Afripad’ erected at our school compound, and soon, girls were being mobilized to go and attend. I abandoned the idea of going home – so as to attend to the Afripad function,” narrates Sarah, whose case is not isolated.
She said she was on top of the sky when she received five reusable pads in one packet, in addition to a pair of knickers and one bar soap.
Sarah, who wants to become a legislator – with emphasis of following into the footsteps of Speaker of Parliament of Uganda – Rebbeca Kadaga in future, said she was one of the luckies girls in the region to have receive all the items from Afripad on the day.
“I postponed going home and now I’m concentrating on reading my books and I want to study until I become the next Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, by all means,” she said.
Sarah is not alone, as Betty Arukol Nangiro, another primary five pupil of Army Primary school in Moroto district, experienced almost a similar situation.
According to Arukol she refused several offers from boys who had promised to provide her with whatever she needed in exchange for sex during holidays.
“I hate creating friendship with boys after the day one of the them whom I was closed to, openly told me he was going to provide for me everything as long as I fell in love with him.
“I simply looked at him; for he was also surviving on his parents – I just laughed and told him to keep a distance from me, from then onwards,” she recalled.
Arukol appealed to girls to remain focused, however much their parents might be struggling to provide them with the neccessities of life – concluding; ‘God would always provide through different ways.’
“I didn’t know about Afripad, it’s my first time to see them but I have received very important items from them, so everything comes at the right time,” she noted.
Grace Nachap, another pupil from Army primary school, said the pads would provide enaabling learning environment – free of any worries.
“I used to get worried whenever the 26th day of every month approached because I always begin my periods on the 28th but now I will never be worried because Afripads have sorted out my problems,” she said.
Ms. Christine Adongo, the senior woman teacher, Army Primary School said it had been a big challenge for many girls in the area when their menstruation cycle approached.
“Many girls sometimes even run away from school, others just remain sleeping in their dormitories fearing to attend classes whenever they are in their periods because of lack of sanitary pads,” she said.
Mr. Peter Igulot, the school head teacher described the distribution of sanitary pads to girls as a relief saying many girls were skipping classes due to difficulty in managing menstruation challenges. According to him, the situation is made worse in Karamoja where parents don’t value girl child education.
Ms. Gertrude Adeker Emojong the National Marketing and Communications lead in Afripad told us that 500 both primary and secondary girls in 20 selected schools in Karamoja region had received the sanitary items.
She said the schools were selected based on the beneficiaries’ background.
“We selected 20 schools in Karamoja given the fact that many girls in sub-region are dropping out of school as a result of lack of sanitary items,” she said.