Menstrual hygiene has always been a sensitive subject especially in the rural areas. The issues surrounding it have always been paramount; ranging from the affordability of menstrual pads, the education of the female child on feminine care during the menstrual period and lack of who to speak to in case of any challenge. In the Bugesera district, when a female child saw her period in school, she had to go home and take care of it thereby, missing a huge chunk of her education. This is a challenge that has been solved by the building of menstrual health hygiene rooms in the school.
The Bank of Kigali granted the sum of Rwf 30 million to a youth led organization, Our Past Initiative. With this sponsorship from the bank and sponsorship from a petroleum company, Rubis, the youth led organization has been able to build a modern menstrual hygiene management room at Ngeruka Primary School in the Bugesera district of Rwanda.
The room has been equipped with materials the girl child needs during her menstruation period. There are period pads there and two beds. The beds are in case any girl is going through pains and needs to rest there.
The room was built in two months and materials used to build it and other things to be spent on it for a period of one year cost them Rwf 30 million. The room accommodates 238 girls and 15 teachers as of this moment. The activities of taking care of the room will be continued, they want to increase the capacity to take up to 600 people.
The president of the organization in an interview said “by increasing its capacity, I mean the services that are offered through it, materials that are needed daily and hiring an employee who will take care of it and be paid by us for 6 months”. The organization will also continue taking care of the project in case anything is needed while seeking to start a new project that will help ensure the operation of the room even in their absence.
The inauguration of the construction took place on the 24th of September at the school where different residents of the Ngeruka cell gathered for Umuganda community work. The handing over of the project happened on the 12th of November.
One of the interviewees said “ the room will help in solving all issues preventing girls from studying as they usually go home when it starts”.
Asides provision of amenities, this will be a safe space for the female child, a space where she can share any challenge encountered in the course of the period and also ask questions on anything she is not clear on.
The founder of the organization, Christian Itwali said he learnt that the girls of Ngeruka had a challenge accessing sanitary pads during this menstruation period, they could not afford it; but now the pads will be given to them free of charge. They are aware that building this room is part of the government’s plans; the idea is providing support to the government.
Seeking to partner with organizations interested in the rights of girls and women, they are also looking for a way to make the room more sustainable and make more impact, in the process providing jobs.
This project has been out there to encourage youths that changing the world or making an impact is not just for the old.