On the 24thand 25thof November 2018, Girls Excel organised a two day workshop on Menstrual Hygiene Management empowering 18 participants from three secondary and high schools in the Adamawa region of Cameroon. The workshop that took place at the Ngaoundere 3 Council was funded by the British High Commission, Yaoundé as the first of 4 regional workshops within the framework of a multi dimensional project called ‘Menstrual Hygiene Campaign in Schools’. This project is a 6-month campaign to reduce girls’ absences from school as a result of poor menstrual hygiene practices by providing know how on washable sanitary pads and education to address the stigma surrounding menstruation in Cameroon’s Far North, Adamawa, South West and North West Regions.
Participants consisted of adolescent girls (13-19 years) from rural schools specifically GHS Gadamabanga, GBHS Malang and CETIC Malang all located within the Adamawa region. Four of the participants were teachers (3 women and a man) from the above schools who were also trained alongside their students so that they could follow up the implementation of the project in their respective schools and communities. Top on the agenda of the workshop was assessing the menstrual needs of the girls by evaluating what kind of support they already have from their home and schools to help them manage this monthly experience and what they still need to make menstruation a confortable experience for them.
This exercise was also an opportunity for the project to tract its progress in the future. Also important was the session on Puberty, Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle lead by Peace Corp Volunteer Hailey Shoemaker and Girls Excel trainer Mercy Dinkaa. This was followed by practical sessions on Menstrual Hygiene management and the making of reusable sanitary pads lead by Girls Excel Founder Delphine Konda and Peace Corp Volunteer Hailey Shoemaker.Day two of the workshop started with a recap and the girl’s impressions of day one. This was followed by a session on how to run a
girls-led club in their various schools through which they can replicate the knowledge gained and teach other girls about menstruation and making their own sanitary pads. After this session, the girls were divided into groups where they worked on practical and feasible strategies on how to implement the menstrual hygiene campaign project in their schools. The entire second half of Day 2 of the workshop consisted on making reusable sanitary pads. The girls learned the names of the different fabrics used such as (fleece, flannel and cottons and how to position them) which all helps with absorption, comfort and facilitates cleaning. They also learned how to wash and preserve their reusable sanitary pads after use each month. Girls Excel also taught the girls how to make their own personalised storage bags. The workshop ended with a vote of thanks and handing of certificates to the participants.
On Monday the 27thof November, the Girls Excel team visited one of the schools Government Bilingual High School Malang where the 4 participants from this school lead a practical session before their friends showcasing what they have learned and how they plan to run a health club in the school to teach other girls and even boys. The highlight of this workshop was the fact that one of the teachers trained was a man who believes that “ it is important for workshops on menstrual hygiene management to specifically target senior discipline masters because they are often the ones whom female students go to for permission to skip school because of lack of pads, blood stain on their uniforms or cramps. Personally, until this workshop, I used to deny to give permission to students who came to me about any of these issues because I just taught they were making excuses to go home but now I know better and I encourage all other male teachers to pay attention and help our girls as much as possible”Aboubakar Adamou, teacher, Lycee de Gada-Mabanga
Girls Excel Mentoring Clubs is a long-term project of Girls Excel, a social impact organisation implemented in partnership with New Dawn Foundation. These clubs aim to create communities in which the absence of reproductive health education and sanitary pads don’t hinder schoolgirls from pursuing their education and building their confidence. The project aims to break the stigma and promote menstrual hygiene management by training 200 adolescent girls as peer educators in 20 communities in the South West region of Cameroon. The project will use non-formal education tools like arts, peer education and technology to achieve it objectives.
The training was needed to create a safe platform where girls can freely discuss issues surrounding menstrual hygiene and reproductive health education without fear or humiliation. UNESCO estimates that 1 in 10 African girls skip school during menstruation because they lack sanitary pads. Added to this, lack of menstrual and reproductive health education is a leading factor in the high rate of teenage pregnancy in Cameroon. Aside from the health and educational disadvantages, there is also socio-economic implications when girls skip school, their ability to break free from poverty is limited.
Therefore, Girls Excel designed a comprehensive menstrual and reproductive health education program which tackled reproductive health education, leadership skills, peer education and the art of making affordable eco-friendly reusable sanitary pads which will last at least one year. At the end of the three weeks training, the girls graduated from as peer educators with the skills and capacity to establish girls clubs in their different churches/ quarters and replicate the skills and knowledge that they have gained from the training.
On the 10th of July 2018, Girls Excel officially opened its doors for the very first GE holiday club. After a “not too easy community mobilization” from previous weeks, GE received 25 children from the community with ages between 3 to 15 years old.
The objective of this holiday club is to encourage non formal education, get the children active and totally involved during this long holiday period, instil leadership qualities and improve teamwork among themselves. These future leaders were taught their rights and obligations as children, hygiene and sanitation, they all participated in Educative and team building games, and with so much enthusiasm, they asked very touching and intelligent questions to the GE team.
Many interesting topics will be revealed as the program unveils. We say a big thank you to all the parents who accompanied their kids and stayed back to watch them.
On Sunday the 10th of June, Girls Excel had another successful implementation of its sensitization campaign on Menstrual Hygiene Management with girls and women in Mbonjo Island in the Limbe III municipality.
The event was organised in partnership with @Ndems Communication, @Kmerpad, @The Advocate Cameroon and the Dockyard/Mbonjo Island Community.
Using a Non formal educational approach, the event was interactive and participatory involving different presentations and questions and answer sessions. It began with an introduction from Girls Exce’sl Fundraising Officer Ms Daina Magha Mujar followed by a short address from Ms Delphine Konda about the vision and mission of Girls Excel. She further thanked the community for welcoming the Girls Excel team into their space.
The first session on Menstrual Hygiene Management was presented by Ms Delphine Konda, Managing Director of Girls Excel, Ms Olivia Boum of KmerPad and Ms Azangi Enaveline, Program Coordinator of Girls Excel who made a detailed presentation of the topic as well as demonstration on how to use and dispose of different types of sanitary pads. Our partners from KmerPads even engaged the participants on how to use FAM, reusable sanitary pads which are bio degradable, long lasting and can be used for up to a year.
Another presentation was done by Ms Rita Zaumu, CEO of Ndems Communication who made an impressive presentation on Early and Forced marriages, a phenomenon affecting 1 in 3 girls before they turn 18 years and which is very rampant in the Mbonjo Island/Dockyard community. Ms Zaumu used her personal experiences as a case study to educate the community on the dangers of early, forced and child marriages.
Her presentation was followed by a session on the importance of Girls Education led by Ms Monica Laisin, Communication Officer, Girls Excel. At the end of the event, over 50 girls received REUSABLE SANITARY KITS from Kmerpads and DISPOSABLE SANITARY KITS from Girls Excel, Ndems Communication and Just Food as well as individuals. Media coverage was provided by @The Advocate Newspaper.
Pictures: Ndems Communication and The Advocate NewspaperG
To commemorate the 2018 Menstrual Hygiene Day 2018, Girls Excel in partnership with the Cameroon Development Cooperation (CDC), The Womens Worldwide Web Menstrual Hygiene Day – Global Cameroon Association of Media Professionals – CAMP organised a one day sensitization campaign with girls and young women in the CDC Debunscha camp on the 26th of May 2018. The event which was celebrated under the theme #NoMoreLimits Empowering women and girls through good menstrual hygiene’ mobilised over 60 girls and young women.
It began with a welcome note from the Estate Manager of the CDC Debunscha camp Mr Ndive Hans and the Communication and Public Relation Manager Mr Manyanye Ikome who welcomed our team and applauded the initiative as well as all the other partners who made the event possible.
It was equally followed by a presentation from the Girls Excel team which included a brief history of the Menstrual Hygiene Day and the importance, challenges and benefits of Menstrual Hygiene Management.
At the end of the presentation, adequate time was allocated for a Q&A session where the girls asked different questions about their reproductive health and these questions were answered by a health personnel (Nurse) made available by CDC. Some of these questions included;
1. What causes Menstrual cramps and what can be done to ease the pain?
2. Why do some girls menstruate twice in a month?
3. Is it true that Menstrual cramps can be transfered from one girl to another?
4. Is it true that chocolate and other sweet things causes menstruation to over flow?
These and many more were some of the questions answered by the CDC health personnel. At the end of the event, all the partners received a vote of thanks from the girls who asked when next our team will be coming to Debunscha for another educational activity. The event ended with the distribution of sanitary pads to over 60 girls who participated in the event.
We use this opportunity to thank all our partners and supporters who financial and moral support made this event successful. We especially thank Reference TV in Limbe for providing Media Coverage during this event.