Pads, End of Term
I last posted in April at the end of the first (Ugandan) term when we had visited our first school for the year.
Since then, in the second term up to August, we have visited 11 more Primary Schools, bringing the total number of girls we have helped this year up to 977. Each girl gets 4 washable pads and 4 pairs of knickers. Most of the girls possess neither before we come. Those who attend our session get taught some biology, a lot of practical wisdom on how to deal with their periods and get encouragement from the Bible to see their intrinsic, worth as unique people. Girls are not much valued in most African societies and they know that very well, so any encouragement that helps them keep their dignity can be life changing.
|Individuals of great value.|
We take the names of absentees and package pads and knickers for each one. (When you think about it, on any day we visit there are some going to be some absent due to …...!)
|The tailor at work|
We have had to develop a fairly slick buying, shipping, marking, cutting and sewing operation to keep up with the demand for pads. This has got so efficient that, as I write, we already have most the pads finished that we expect will be needed next (3rd) term and we have over bought on the pad cloth and plastic sheet; oops, I applied the brake too late!
Soon after we started this year, in April, it became apparent that we could produce pads quickly enough and visit schools frequently enough to aim for 24 schools in the year rather than 12 as originally planned. But it would cost twice as much. All the while, funding has been steadily coming in from UK supporters, with a good single donation from the US and another larger one from EI Australia which assisted us in getting discounts through bulk buying. If funds continue then we should reach our 24 school target this coming term and have a good stock of material ready for next year, if we continue. The cost per girl has been kept to £2.83, about 4.62 $US.
One new and encouraging aspect that has emerged, is that that some head teachers are getting really interested in the possibilities of what we are doing. Their reason for this is that they want their girls to perform well but for years have been frustrated by the girls missing days of school every month and not reaching their potential. They can see that providing the girls with pads, giving them the confidence to stay in school, makes a real difference. So they are beginning to ask the question; how can the schools ensure that the girls are always provided for? They realise that we will not be here for their foreseeable future. It may seem simple to us but believe me the problems posed by the poverty and culture of the families and inadequate government funding are formidable. But then some of the head teachers are formidable people!