Written by Joy Lynn Alegarbes of Huru International
“When I was in lower primary,” Edith explained, “I used to pass and pass well in my exams. But after my period… I missed classes. My teachers complained and my friends wondered why I was not coming to school for the day or the week. I was unable to explain. My self esteem became low, and I used to tell myself that I would not be able to go to my dream school or reach my goals. I felt very sorry for myself.”
Each year around the world, approximately 500 million girls get their periods, and each of these girls can miss up to six weeks of school every year. Chronic absenteeism is closely linked to academic decline. It is not a surprise that girls in puberty struggle with academic performance and continuation.
“My family was poor. I needed the pads, but I did not want to stress my parents; so most of the times I used pieces of old clothes. As I was using those pieces, I was not comfortable because I could not sit down for fear of leaking… Then the Huru pads came.”
In Swahili, Huru means Freedom. Founded in Kenya in 2008, the mission of Huru International is to assist and empower adolescent girls by providing them with the resources and knowledge they need to complete their education and safeguard their health. In many parts of the world, poverty makes the cost of sanitary pads prohibitive for countless girls and young women, leading many to resort to unsafe substitutions, or to skip school for the duration of their periods. In response to this need, Huru has developed high-quality reusable sanitary pads, produced locally and packaged into kits with other necessary products and life skills information. These kits are provided at no cost to tens of thousands of at-risk girls in Kenya and other developing countries around the world.
Edith wrote recently, “I am happy because my school attendance and also my self esteem have improved. My performance in school has changed for the better, and now I am sure of going to my dream school to achieve my goals. I am very grateful to Huru. I would ask them to distribute as many pads as possible to many schools. I would feel great if many girls also could benefit from this.”
For updates and inspiration:
Visit Huru online at www.huruinternational.org to support women and girls like Edith. $25 will empower a girl with a Huru Kit, allowing her to claim her independence and blossom to her full potential. $5000 will empower a school community (200 girls) and help to bring them towards a brighter future.
Join the conversation on Twitter using #MenstruationMatters
Cover image c/o Huru International