What you need to know:
- Teenage girls from informal settlements in Voi and Mwatate have received sanitary towels from well-wishers just two weeks after the Nation highlighted their plight.
- During the distribution exercise, the girls received sexual and reproductive health education from health officers and community volunteers.
- Through the initiative, the well-wishers pledged to support the girls by enrolling them in skills-set projects to empower them economically.
Hundreds of teenage girls from informal settlements in Voi and Mwatate sub-counties have received sanitary towels from well-wishers just two weeks after the Nation highlighted their plight.
The girls had been using rags and pieces of cloth.
During the distribution exercise, the girls received sexual and reproductive health education from health officers and community volunteers.
Through the initiative, the well-wishers pledged to support the girls by enrolling them in skills-set projects to empower them economically.
Access to sanitary towels is a major challenge for many girls in Taita Taveta County, especially now that schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They used to receive sanitary towels from the government run project while school was in session.
One of the well-wishers in Voi, Fatuma Salim, said they came forward as a group to provide answers to questions raised by girls, especially at this time when they are not in school.
Ms Salim, who is also a human rights activist, said girls from poverty-stricken families are sometimes forced to beg from men to purchase the pads.
"We first started this program with a group of friends where we were conducting menstrual awareness in Voi. During the forums, we realised the girls lacked sanitary towels; that is why we started this pads drive," she said.
Ms Salim added that the combination of pads and health education will help tackle challenges the girls face. Some of them are forced to trade sex in exchange for money to buy pads, leading to early pregnancies.
"We educate these girls on hygiene and answer their pressing questions. By doing so, we will be working towards addressing peer pressure among teenagers," she said.
Mwatate Sub-county Youth Community-Based Organisation led by Ms Patricia Mwashighadi said they received calls from girls that they use rags, which often lead to infections.
Ms Mwashighadi added that they plan to reach more than 7,000 girls in Mwatate Sub-county before rolling the program to other areas across the region.
"We are planning to reach many needy girls, especially in informal settlements and rural villages in Mwatate," she said.
So far, the group has reached 300 girls in Mwatate, Sembe and Modambogho sub-locations.
"We call upon well-wishers to join hands with us to reach more vulnerable girls,” she said.
Last week, the Ministry of Education directed sub-county directors of Education to continue issuing sanitary pads stored in the learning institutions.
The directive will offer reprieve to parents who are forced to prioritise food instead of buying the essential dignity kits for their daughters.