In addition to the distribution of Birth Kits CFK is trialing a new strategy in the supply of washable menstrual pads and underpants to women on Kiriwina. UNICEF says that adolescent girls in school suffer the most when they are menstruating. Many schools report absenteeism among adolescent girls due to a lack of private changing rooms and no access to soap, water and sanitary pads. Some stay away from school for a few days. This hampers girls’ learning as they miss classes and they re-attend with reduced self-esteem and dignity.
In response to the new initiative Ruth Boaz, our co-head VBA reports that…
“The women say the reusable pads have been used and they are very helpful as they wash them to be used again and again. The underpants given to women have also been very useful.”
Other than closing the school when they run out of water, another issue facing the Kiriwina High School is a high absenteeism rate of female students who avoid classes while they are menstruating. CFK is supplying Dignity Kits to the school, which include hygiene products to help the girls deal with their menstrual cycle without embarrassment and enable them to attend classes regularly.
On arrival, we went straight to Kiriwina High School accompanied by Kavataria Village Birth Attendants and Lepani Ahab. Met with the Headmaster and Deputy Headmaster of Kiriwina High School. I was given a warm welcome by the headmaster and was introduced to the rest of the teaching and ancillary staff. Unfortunately, the students were sent home earlier than their term two break due to water problems. I was given an opportunity to speak to the teachers about the work that CFK does on Kiriwina. I delivered about 50 packets of dignity kits to the teachers of KHS to distribute to the girls on their return to school. The Headmaster informed me that one of the issues faced by the school is water problems.
Toks Bwania, In-Country Manager