Menstral Hygiene kits restore dignity and empower girls and women in Bidibidi refugee settlement

Wednesday, 09 August 2023 13:30
Head of Office - Austria Red Cross in Uganda, Angelika Forsstroem distributes Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Kits to girls in Yangani Primary School, Yangani village, zone 5, Bidibidi refugee settlement.

In an effort to restore dignity and empower the girls and women in Bidibidi refugee settlement, Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) through the Bimysawa and Humanitarian Protection 1 projects have distributed Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Kits to over 4,500 beneficiaries.

These projects, with support from the Austria Development Cooperation, Belgian Red Cross Flanders, and Austrian Red Cross, have restored hope and empowerment to thousands of girls and women of reproductive age in the settlement.

Annette Lopi, a 15-year-old pupil at Yangani Primary School and a member of the school's wash club, is among the beneficiaries of the MHM Kits from the Bimysawa project. The comprehensive kits consist of essential items such as a bucket, laundry soap, a pant peg, a pack of sanitary pads, a towel, a kitenge (African print cloth) for storing the pants, pants themselves, and a clothesline.

Lopi shared her previous struggles when she and her fellow teenagers would miss school due to a lack of proper menstrual hygiene management. She expressed her joy at being able to attend classes freely, actively participate in school activities, and engage with her peers without feeling embarrassed during her menstrual days.

Some of the MHM KITS that were distributed to the girls and women of Bidibidi refugee settlement

The challenges, are not only faced by school going children. Sarah Sikinak, a resident of Zone 4 Village 5 in Bidibidi, shared her previous hardships, where she and others had to resort to using blanket offcuts as sanitary pads. The lack of soap for washing these makeshift pads led to serious health concerns, including urinary tract infections (UTIs). The provision of MHM Kits has not only alleviated such health risks but also restored a sense of dignity and well-being for the refugee women.

Hamidah Mundolo, the senior woman teacher at Yangani Primary School, reported a significant reduction in the number of girls dropping out of school since the distribution of the kits. This positive outcome highlights the transformative power of providing adequate menstrual hygiene resources to girls and women.

In addition to the immediate support provided by the MHM Kits, the Bimysawa and HP1 projects have taken a sustainable approach by training the women and girls in Bidibidi on how to make reusable sanitary pads.

Sarah Sikinak expressed gratitude for the training and highlighted the newly found independence and self-reliance it has provided. “I can now make my own reusable pads with materials within my neighborhood,” Sikinak affirms.

BIMYSAWA WASH project officer, Evelyn Abu explaining the essential components of the MHM KIT to attendees at Yangani Primary School, Yangani village, Zone 5, Bidibidi refugee settlement during one of the distribution exercises

Evelyn Abu, a Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) project officer, emphasized the importance of continuity even after the URCS support ends. By acquiring the skills to produce their own reusable pads, the women can ensure their long-term access to menstrual hygiene products and even generate income by selling the surplus.

George Baliraine, an HP1 WASH project officer, stressed the significance of inclusive approaches in addressing the needs of vulnerable communities, including people with disabilities, women, and girls. “Through participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, these projects have empowered communities to identify and address their own challenges, fostering a sense of ownership and sustainability.” Baliraine notes .

The combined efforts of these projects have made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands, promoting dignity, education, and empowerment for girls and women in Bidibidi refugee settlement.

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URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org


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