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2022-01-16 Sanitary napkin sewing

Many rural girls in African countries drop out of school when they reach the age of menstruation. There are little to no facilities in schools to accommodate girls during their menses. Schools often have pit toilets with no water, no toilet paper, no garbage bins, no handwashing stations, and little privacy. In order to attend school girls need the funds to purchase commercial sanitary products which are expensive. If girls remain at home, they often use old rags or often sit on leaves in an area of their home reserved for them during this time. When girls drop out of school, they then become vulnerable to be married off at a very young age. With having not finished school or becoming married with children at a young age, girls are not in a position to become empowered or independent and often are victims of violence and poverty. While planning our trip to Yumbe, I had offered to teach a few training sessions for the women’s groups in the Yumbe area. The first training session was to teach them how to hand sew reusable cloth sanitary napkins.

I had prepared patterns, purchased cloth, and collected scissors, pins, needles, thread and snaps to use during the program. 60 women arrived for the sewing event! All the women left with a handsewn set of cloth sanitary napkins and the instructions for how to use and wash them. I left the pattern and all of the sewing tools there so they could continue to make them on their own.

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