In 2021, the Save the Elephants (STE) education team started a project to distribute PadMad washable pads to girls between 10-15 years old at 16 schools in the Samburu-Isiolo conservation area in northern Kenya. The distributions take place once a year in each school. The aim of the project is to distribute the pads to young girls while also offering them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about menstruation and women’s health.
Washable, reusable pads provide a solution to multiple problems faced by young girls in this area. They offer a hygienic, sustainable option to deal with menstruation, remove the cost of purchasing disposable menstrual pads each month, and importantly offer the girls the ability to continue to attend school during their periods rather than remaining confined at home.
Save the Elephants’ education officers passionately undertook this noble project with the aim to break cultural barriers and remove the taboo associated with women’s health as well as to help girls feel confident in themselves. Part of this involves talking to the boys at the schools to help them understand menstruation and make sure that they foster a comfortable environment for their female classmates. Speaking openly about these topics goes a long way in helping these boys to be more understanding of what girls go through.
A parents’ meeting also takes place every year where STE can discuss the project with the parents. The parents are told in advance that menstruation is going to be discussed during the meeting, so if they are reluctant to get into the subject, they aren’t forced to. This leads to a very interesting voluntary conversation where teachers, STE staff and parents can collaborate for the benefit of the girls.
On April 18th, Save the Elephants’ staff George Mugera and James Mpapa alongside interns Olympia Brule and Alice Clark visited Lpus Leluai (Westgate School) to distribute pads to 60 girls. The STE staff introduced themselves and explained how to use the pads while the female interns and teachers spoke about their own experiences with menstruation and offered the girls advice on how to handle their periods and what to expect through puberty.
The school girls each received one PadMad kit containing 4 pads of mixed sizes, which should last 3 years when properly taken care of. Occasionally, girls may be given 2 packs if they are likely to migrate with their families through the year.
STE hopes to continue to empower more girls to understand themselves better and feel confident at school each and every day.