Thursday, July 26, 2007

4th Dispatch from Muhuru

Today, after spending one night in Nairobi, Andy, Denis, and I will be returning via nightbus to Migori. There are so many great things that have happened since my last blog, and Andy will give a team update in his upcoming blog!

On Tuesday, as planned, we brought Stayfree pads to Rabwao Primary School, and the reception we recieved was even warmer than when I distributed the pads to Women from the Community! At first, April and I introduced ourselves to the classroom full of over 100 girls. The girls were very quiet, and probably a bit uncomfortable as Lee, Andy, and I sat in the room as April explained how the body changes during puberty and how, "All of these things are normal, they are a part of growing into a beautiful healthy woman!" These girls ranged from standard 6 to 8, and many had never been told why the menstrual cycle occurs, or that it is a normal part of growing older. It was clear that the girls had many questions, but they were very shy, so I insisted that the three men in the room, including myself, go outside to give the girls more privacy. The result was incredible. For a full twenty minutes, April recieved questions ranging from menstrual cramps to hygeine, and utilized several diagrams. April then told the girls that we had a gift for all of them, and I could hear shouts of joy fom outside the room.

At that point, I returned and explained the proper use of the pads, and thankfully, a worker for the Muhuru Bay Red Cross served as my translator, allowing the explanation to be understood easier. It's really been empowering to provide knowledge and education along with the pads, but it has also been abundantly clear that my gender has a way of getting in the way of my objectives. April took more questions about the pads, but girls only raised their hands after the men left once again. What was important, was that all of us felt that the information had been effectively communicated and absorbed by the Rabwao students. When a male teacher returned to the class, he said something incorrect (and inappropriate) about "retaining freshness" and "applying one pad before class each day". Thankfully, most of the girls were ignoring his ignorant comments, or shaking their heads in disagreement. When April told the girls that they would be recieving four ten-packs, I heard girls shouting, "That's forty!" It will be truly amazing once the use of such products becomes widespread, enabling girls to stay in school rather than missing weeks of class each year.
Andy and I had an incredible meeting with a Johnson and Johnson Representative, a meeting which was helped in no small part by a chance encounter with Prashant Swaminathan, who happened to be staying at our hotel! I'm extremely excited about WISER activities this coming year, there are so many opportunities and challenges ahead of us!

We are ready for them!

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