Another project checked off the list, this time one that I didn’t actually think I would ever do! A little background first:
When I first arrived in my village almost one year ago now (it will officially be a year in the vill in 2 weeks!) there was no secondary school. There were however some half built classrooms just walking distance from my house that I was told would be the secondary school when they were finished. Now, understanding the timeline for many Tanzanian projects I had no hopes of actually ever seeing that secondary school put to use. To my surprise when I can back from being home for Christmas work had been done enough to fully open two classrooms and the school was now up and running, with only form 1 students, on the hopes that they will continue doing more work throughout the school year and have the rest of the facilities open and running next year for the other form 2, 3, and 4 students.
Seeing the school open I was obviously excited because it opens other opportunities for me to do projects and like the clinic it is just a short distance from my house so I should have no excuses. The first Huru training (huru means independence in Swahili) occurred in January and although I myself did not attend many volunteers from my region did. Upon returning from the training a friend from my region made the comment that she would have extra materials for the project left over after she implemented with her school and if I was interested in doing the project I could have them! I was obviously very excited and within two weeks my counterpart and I met decided what we wanted to do and had a date set one week out to implement the project!
Huru International is a company registered in Kenya and the US which provides a program to empower girls and young women with a large focus on menstruation. Along with the education program facilitators are given kits to distribute to young girls which contain necessary materials for proper hygiene management during their periods (i.e. new underwear, soap, and reusable pads).
After meeting with my counterpart we decided for this program we would split it into two separate days. On the first day of the training we decided we would teach both the girls and the boys focusing on setting and reaching their goals, gender equality and empowerment, and the consequences of early/unplanned pregnancies, STIs, and drug and alcohol. The second day of the training we taught only the female students focusing the lessons on what menstruation actually was, different health issues women face, and how to empower themselves as well as each other.
The first day went great the kids were excited to do the activities we had planned for them and a few brave hands even went up when we asked questions. The second day…. I couldn’t have ever predicted it to go as well as it did! At first the girls were a little uncomfortable but then we started to get into things and made a few jokes and they loosened up and by the end they were laughing and enjoying themselves. The last activity we did before handing out the kits has always been an activity I love and it was even more exciting to see the girls enjoying it. You place a piece of paper on everyone’s back and then everyone walks around the room and writes nice things about the person wearing it, then when it’s done you take your paper off and read it. The girls were so happy and one student even stood up and said it felt good to see that other people cared about her. After ended the lessons on that high note we explained the kits and started distributing them. During the explanation of the kits the girls we clapping and screaming and continued to saw thank you over and over. It was invigorating to see the girls get so excited about something thats so easy for us to take for granted in the US. Americans can just go to the store and have a choice of things to buy and not think twice about it, when here not only are pads not very commonly available but when they are they are so overly priced most people cannot afford them.
This was a great project and although I originally didn’t have plans to do it I’m so happy the opportunity came around and I was able to take part in it. I believe it has been the most humbling project I have done so far.