Will Miss 10,000 please stand up?
The girls at Porogali Primary School, Pader district share out knickers in groups of three. The pads have already been handed out and put away. One of these is our 10,00th girl.
We have just started our fourth year of the Pads Ministry in Pader, Northern Uganda and a blog post seems to be one good way of marking a special milestone.
Yes, we have now passed the '10,000 girl' milestone and she is somewhere in this crowd of girls you can see at Porogali Primary School in Pader district.
We thought about singling her out and celebrating her but in the end we decided not to embarrass her; just to know that she was there.
That was on 14th of February and was in the middle of a push that took us up to 10,763 at the time of writing.
These young girls will shortly be young women and, in due course, mothers themselves.This project is helping to break the cycle of ignorance and prejudice around menstruation, that leads to girls dropping out of school and being married off young for a lifetime of childbearing.
Girls anywhere can suffer low self esteem and the onset of menstruation, without understanding what is happening, can be crushing. We always tell them how they are each 'wonderfully made' by God, quoting from Psalm 139v14. It is all to easy for them to think that they are some kind of horrible mistake, in a culture that traditionally does not value girls, except as a means of gaining wealth by marrying them off. Attitudes are changing, but slowly.
So, with these simple materials, instruction and encouragement, we are giving these girls just a small but vital bit of control over their own lives.
When they do become mothers, they will know how to help their girls as they grow up.
Each set of 4 pads and 4 knickers, delivered to the girl, costs 9,500 Uganda shillings, roughly £2.21. We think that is rather good value for a life changing intervention!