Wildlife Works is committed to supporting community projects as we feel these can be the most important tools to developing self-sufficient and self-governing communities. One of our main focuses is on education, especially for women and girls.
This past weekend, a sexual health and sanitation session for young girls at Kiteghe Primary School within our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area in southeastern Kenya was funded through Wildlife Works. This program is called GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), and is run by Monica, a local Kenyan lady who volunteers her Saturdays to run this training session in local primary and secondary schools across Taita Taveta County.
Monica writes essential goals for girls attending the training
50 girls over the age of 12 attended the event. Each girl was selected to serve as a peer educator to pass along the teachings to two others in the school. The session was held on a Saturday morning and the girls showed up eager to learn. The day started with a review of issues that were important to know, from child pornography and prostitution to female genital mutilation and incest. The girls scribbled feverously in their notebooks as soon as they were given a new concept and asked questions and voiced their concerns.
Oohs and ahhs and quick inhales of breath could be heard throughout as the girls learned terms that were often harsh and scary. A common theme was the concept that girls should avoid relations with boys so as to fully focus on their studies. Currently at Kiteghe Primary School, five girls from the school are pregnant. Once they have their children, it is unlikely these girls will resume normal studies.
50 girls above the age of 12 attended the training
After the morning session, two of the seminar leaders, Monica and Happiness, began a discussion of sanitation in which they showed the girls how to properly clean themselves. Amid some giggles and laughter, the instructors demonstrated how to insert a sanitary pad into a pair of underwear. This demonstration was very important in expressing to the girls the normality of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and aimed to reduce the stigma associated with it.
In Africa, the biggest cause of absenteeism from school for girls is due to girls being on their period. Seminars like these are important in educating young women and giving them the tools they need to attend school all month long.
One of the main events of the day was a lesson on how to make your own reusable sanitary pad by sewing together pieces of towel, cut outs from plastic bags and cotton scraps (provided from our eco-factory, thereby reducing waste and becoming something useful!). Using a needle and thread, each girl sewed her own pad, which for many was her first one. The design is one used by Wildlife Works and other organizations that has proven to be successful in serving as a pad that can be cleaned and reused.
One girl completes her handmade, reusable pad
After creating their own sanitary pad, the girls were given a gift of two pairs of underwear that had been donated through Wildlife Works to be distributed at the seminar. It was great to be able to show these young girls how to manage their period through creating their very own sanitary pads using commonly found materials.
This program is one of several here in the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area that works to enable girls to take charge of their own lives and education. Next year, Monica and the other instructors are hoping to expand the program to boys.
These sessions are largely funded by donations to Wildlife Works. Please get in touch with our Conservation Office Manager, Cara Braund at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing to a similar girls or boys seminar.