Recently a friend posted about an initiative called Marypad on her WhatsApp status.
I was shocked to find out that many girls in rural parts of Namibia are absent from school during their menstrual cycle due to unavailability of sanitary pads.
So I contacted Paulina, who started and runs the project to educate myself about Marypad and this is her story:
Paulina Kambonde -Tshanga, hails from Northern Namibia born to a mother who's a teacher in rural Namibia, she got exposed first-hand the challenges that children in rural/village schools face that has a direct impact on their academics.
She came to the realization that: Children in rural/village schools perform poor academically, not necessarily because they are mentally challenged or incapable but rather because they face challenges that their peers in urban areas not facing.
These challenges ranges from hunger in schools, lack of classroom facilities, textbooks and perhaps an issue that's not much talked about: THE ABSENTEEISM OF THE GIRL CHILD FROM SCHOOL DURING HER MENSTRUAL CYCLE DUE TO UNAVAILABILITY OF SANITARY PADS.
Thousands of women and girls in rural Namibia face Period poverty, as they are not able to manage their menstruation in a hygienic manner due to unavailability of sanitary pads as they have to travel long distances to purchase these products in nearby towns only. These women and girls this turn to unhygenic means to manage their menses and use old cloths or mattresses, rags, leaves etc which causes infections such as urinary tract infections, and other infections that later affect their reproductive health.
While studying in India she discovered women groups that manufactures low cost sanitary pads for school girls and low income households, and it's where the idea of MARY PAD was born.
The K'Negongo Foundation has taken an obligation towards the upliftment of the rural child in Namibia. It is indisputable that children in the rural areas are the most disciplined, hardworking and humble but yet the least supported academically, socially and in other spheres of their lives.
These children walk long distances to school and spend on average 7/8 hours without food, learning on empty stomachs as not all of them are fortunate to bring a lunchbox to school. Winter and rainy seasons are the hardest for these children as they walk to school under rain and freezing conditions without any warm clothes on their backs.
Lack of study materials, chairs, desks and facilities like libraries makes Academically, they are expected to perform on the same level as their peers in
learning very difficult in rural schools and learners are thus unable to perform to urban areas despite not having enough resources like textbooks, libraries and
the best of their abilities or even close to the level of their peers in urban areas most of them are still being taught under trees and shades
as they sit for the same exams. To date, most schools in rural Namibia are still conducting lessons under trees and shades.
Another challenge has been that of "Period poverty" Around 700 schools in rural/remote Namibia face the problem of absenteeism of the girl-child during her menstrual period. Most girls miss on average 3-7 school calendar days each
month due to lack of sanitary pads while others risk their health by turning to unhygienic means like using rags, leaves, newspapers etc. to manage their menses.
All the above mentioned, are a great hindrance to the education of children in rural/remote Namibia and demoralizes children to attend school and this is confirmed by a high number of school dropouts that our country has been experiencing over the years. School dropouts ultimately contribute to the unemployment rate and crime rate in our country, as more of the youth joins the streets in desperation in an attempt to find survival mechanisms to fend for themselves and rather end up becoming victims of alcohol and drug abuse.
Our organization operates in line with the UN Sustainable Development goals
We operate in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with the Unite Nations.
For more information on Marypad,the work they do, and how you can get involved please contact Paulina on:
Cellphone/ Whatsapp +264 81 224 8565
Facebook: K'Ņegongo Foundation