In partnership with Education Cannot Wait, UNICEF, and the Chadian Ministry of Education & Professional Training, Jesuit Refugee Service Chad is providing the foundation for menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and inclusive education across Lake Chad & Logone Oriental.
More than 6,000 refugees and IDP students attending the local schools are now receiving these services.
Access to MHM kits is essential to protecting young women from public shame, missing classes, or dropping out of school altogether.
“The period used to prevent me from going to school,” says 15-year-old Bana Gana, who attends the Foul Foul School in Western Chad. “Before JRS MHM kits [arrived], I had nothing to wear during my period. This kit allows us to hide the pad inside the support case and go back home to wash without anyone noticing.”
With proper attention, care, and resources, young women can feel empowered to carry on with their schooling, gain confidence and independence, and contribute more than ever to their communities.
“If you educate a man, you educate an individual,” said Ghanaian intellectual and academic James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey. “If you educate a woman, you educate an entire nation.”
Explore more testimonies of girls served by MHM and inclusive education across the region below:
Hazida, 14 years old
“When girls have the period, they feel ashamed to go to school. The first time I had my period I felt scared, I thought I was sick. Yet, my grandmother had already told me about the period already. And my mother explained what to do when I had my period.
JRS MHM kit helped me a lot in my daily life. And I learnt during the training how to use the sanitary pads and protect myself.
I love reading and writing at school, I learn a lot of things. In the future I want to become a teacher.”
Kaikai, 14 years old
“I got my first period one week ago [late November 2021]. Some girls in the village cried when they get their period, but after JRS trainings on MHM, we are more comfortable with it. I didn’t know before that it was possible to go to school during my period.
School is important to become a doctor or even a minister. Our parents don’t know how to read and write. So, we can read them their [medical] cards.
My parents are aware of the importance of school. They even [have] sold a goat sometimes if we need to pay something for my studies. They were also happy when I received JRS MHM kit.
To improve girl’s MHM at school it would be necessary to improve the current latrines, since there is no door, and other children can see us. We are forced to hide in the bush to change the sanitary pads.
When I grow older, I want to become a midwife because some women have a lot of problems when giving birth, and I want to be a relief for them. I also want to raise awareness on MHM.”
Malembe, 15 years old
“Life is better here than in my hometown in Nigeria because I feel safe. There, we were at risk due to Boko Haram. I suffered an attack by them too. I saw how they went door by door to shoot people in my town. My mother escaped running with me on her back.
I wasn’t born with my handicap; I could actually walk before. When I was two years old, they took me to the hospital because I was sick. They gave me an injection, and I lost the mobility in my legs. I haven’t been able to walk since.
On 1st December I received a tricycle [by UNICEF and Humanity & Inclusion]. In class, I feel well treated by the teacher but I’m not comfortable going to the blackboard. Now I will be able to do many things with the tricycle and meet my friends outside.”
33 years old, originally from Mayo Kebbi, Souhadi has been teaching at Malmairi school for 6 years. After attending JRS training on MHM, he felt prepared to attend to a student whose period arrived on a school day.
“The girl was in the classroom, sitting on the mat. It was the second pause, and we were about to go home. When she stood up her classmates noticed she was stained with blood. Some refused to take the mat where the girl was sitting on.
She was ashamed, sitting down, and didn’t want to get up.
I approached the girl to console her. I told her that she shouldn’t be ashamed, that she was not the only one having the period and won’t be the last one either. That it is natural for all women and girls.
We [the teachers] finally convinced her not to stay at home but to go to school. We washed the mat ourselves.
The next day, the girl came to school as she had promised, and she has been coming very regularly until today.
JRS MHM training was very rich and beneficial for all teachers. We learned to find the correct words to reassure girls on what is happening to them. There are things we don’t know, but we now feel better prepared to support girls during their periods.”
This story was originally published by JRS USA.