TVT in partnership with the Grevyzebra Trust has just completed a three day training workshop on production of reusable sanitary pads (Villachic) for the nomadic communities of Samburu. The training which targeted women, youth and men community leaders, brought together 43 group leaders drawn from all clans of Samburu. The three day intensive residential training took place at a local primary school in Archers Post.
The increasing rate of school drop out for girls due to lack of sanitary pads has been a major concern for the local leaders and development partners. Women in Samburu, just like many women in the poor rural villages, result to very unhealthy and dangerous methods of preventing flow leakage when they are menstruating. During the time of sharing of experiences, women shared horror stories of the sufferings they go through whenever they have periods. They said that they normally use old cloth rags, pieces of old mattress, papers, tree leaves, animal skins and anything else that would prevent leakage. As a result they are constantly having infections but there is nothing they can. They said their daughters drop out of school and get married due to inability attend classes when they have their monthly periods. Due to fear of spoiling their dresses and embarrass themselves in front of the boys and men teachers, girls opt to skip school at least one week every month and this impacts negatively on their performance.
They acknowledge the fact that many organizations and individuals donate disposable pads but when they finish, they go back to using their non hygienic methods of preventing leakages. As one of the community leaders reported during the interview (see video) having skills and knowledge to make reusable sanitary pads will go a long way in building the confidence of women, earning them income and enabling the Samburu girls to concentrate in their studies without fear and anxiety of having monthly periods.
Young men who were not married and young school girls also attended the training. Asked what motivated them to attend the training, when they are not even married, they said that they have seen their sisters suffer and they have always wanted to be help but they had no means. They felt so empowered with skills and expertise to make pads. They reported that with their new acquired skills they will be able to make pads for their sisters and when they get married their wives will not have to go through the sufferings their mothers had gone through.
Though Grevyzebra Trust focuses more on wildlife conservation, it has emerged that women are very active and this new partnership with TVT will ensure that women needs are well taken care of.
Making of reusable sanitary pads is one of the TVT's income generating projects for women, requiring support from the entire community. During the closing ceremony the Samburu Country Cabinet Secretary in charge of tourism pledged to work with the women who had been trained to market their pads. The local leaders also pledged to assist the various groups to raise seed money to buy sanitary pads production materials. TVT reassured the trainees of continued support on capacity building and retraining as and when needed. There are more communities requiring this intervention and to know how you can support your own community contact TVT. The workshop closing ceremony was attended by TVT GrevyZebra and TVT board members.