Adolescent girls and young people have come together to promote their menstrual health hygiene, which is one of the leading sexual and reproductive health care challenges faced by women of reproductive age in the refugee and host communities in Nakivale and Oruchinga refugee settlements. It is for this reason that Shared Action Africa supported 32 adolescent girls and young women to form a savings and lending group that they named “Oruchinga Youth Protection Group”, with a membership of 25 girls and 7 boys. The group was initially formed as a savings and lending group to help members pool their meagre savings on a weekly basis, but also serve as forum through which members would be provided sexual and reproductive health counselling and services.
It is through subsequent meetings, where members noticed consistent absenteeism by female members around the same period every month, that the leadership decided to find out from their members why they were not attending group meetings on a regular basis. It was then revealed by members that lack access to sanitary pads during menstruation that this hindered them from joining group activities, and it is for this reason that they jointly decided to seek training on how to produce handmade sanitary pads. To support their efforts, Shared Action Africa provided them UGX 150,000 which they used to buy some materials that they are using both during training, as well as in the production of reusable sanitary pads for their own personal use and for close family members.
“The sanitary towels making group activity has not only strengthened the social connectedness of members, but it has improved the menstrual hygiene and health of members. This is because we not only meet to save and lend out to each other, we also meet to receive education on how to promote personal hygiene during menstruation. We are working hard to improve our skills in the making of sanitary pads so that we can grow beyond making sanitary pads for our own use into turning it into an income generating activity for both individual members as well as for the groups.
We are grateful for the support provided to us by Shared Action Africa and African Women’s Development Fund. We plan to share this knowledge with other youth led groups so that they can also have a group activity that does not only help them bond, but also addresses their menstrual health because we also believe young people are the best agents and drivers of change amongst their peers, and the community they live in.