2nd Nov 2021, 29th Jan 2022
Project Title: Responding to the Menstrual Hygiene and Physiotherapy Needs of Girls, especially those with Special Needs in Kajiado North
Field Report: Kiserian Primary School
Field Activity Date: 2 November 2021 and 29 January 2022
Kiserian primary school is one of the 9 schools covered by the project ScandiCare is implementing to meet the menstrual hygiene needs of girls needs in Kajiado North. The menstrual hygiene training and distribution of the Mina cup by Scandicare took place on 02 November 2021 and 29 January 2022 respectively. The first training conducted on 2 November 2021 involved parents to girls with special needs at the school. On the same day, ScandiCare conducted menstrual hygiene training for 24 teachers from the 9 schools covered by the project. ScandiCare is pursuing a holistic approach by providing training to girls with special needs, their parents, teachers, and caregivers.
Kajiado North is one of the districts in the larger Rift Valley province with the largest number of special needs education units and a high number of children with disabilities (approximately 70%) have multiple disabilities, cerebral palsy and other conditions that impair mobility and optimal functioning of limbs, a fact that negatively impacts on their education. Other categories of learners with disabilities include those with Mental Handicap/Intellectual Disability (MH/ID), Physical Handicap (PH), and Autism. Many girls miss or drop out of school due to the stigma associated with menstruation and the prohibitive costs of sanitary products
The training was organised for the following target groups as explained in this report.
1. Teachers from all the 9 schools covered by the project
2. Girls with special needs of various types attending Kiserian primary school in Kajiado North
3. Home based girls with special needs in the region of Kiserian primary school
4. Parents of the two target groups named above
5. Menstruating Girls from the households of the girls with special needs
ScandiCare provided menstrual hygiene training to a total of 93 beneficiaries including special unit teachers, parents, caregivers, girls, and members of their households.
Providing the menstrual hygiene training to parents and caregivers to girls with special needs is an important pillar in the training conducted by ScandiCare. This is because some of the beneficiaries with cognitive challenges rely on their parents and caregivers in managing their menstrual hygiene.
As in other similar menstrual hygiene trainings previously conducted by, the training by ScandiCare Field Officers included a presentation of the challenges of puberty, the stigma associated with menstruation, the menstrual cycle, sanitary products commonly used by girls in and out of schools and their disadvantages, and an introduction to the Mina menstrual cup.
Among the frequently asked questions from the girls, parents and caregivers included the following.
1. Can the Mina cup be shared where household members menstruate on different days?
2. Can the use of the Mina cup interfere with virginity in the case of girls who have not had sexual intercourse?
3. Are there Known disadvantages of using the cup such as infections, discomfort?
4. Does one need to remove the cup when visiting the toilet for short or long calls?
The question on virginity continues to generate interest given that virginity is still regarded as an important cultural attribute among certain communities in Kajado North. ScandiCare. In addressing the issue, ScandiCare puts emphases on the following,
• That virginity revolves around breaking the membrane in the female reproductive organ known as the hymen, and not all females have the membrane
• That unlike in the olden days when girls did not engage in sports and other physical activities outside the home, the hymen can these days be broken during sports activities, bicycle riding, etc. It is therefore unrealistic to exclusively attach virginity to sexual activity.
This is an area where ScandCare will need more advocacy as the project continues. Even though the importance of virginity among girls is slowly disappearing as a cultural practice among many communities residing in the region, it remains a cultural and a religious concern leading to the concern expressed by parents regarding the use of the Mina menstrual cup
Besides the provision of the menstrual hygiene training, Scandicare distributed the Mina menstrual cup to a total of 86 beneficiaries. ScandiCare distributes the Mina cup to girls and their households to prevent possible cases of infections resulting from the sharing of the cup within households. As highlighted in other reports, the beneficiaries of the project come majorly from poor households and in line with the “do no harm principle” (the principle of avoiding exposing people to additional risks through actions undertaken within the context of a project intervention), ScandCare distribute the cup not only to the girls with special needs, but also to other menstruating members of their households.
The menstrual hygiene training and the distribution of the Mina cup to the target group continues in other schools in a coordinated efforts with the schools, the Ward representatives for persons living with disability in each ward, and the teachers from the special units from each school. Parents to the home-based girls with special needs around Kiserian mainly attended the last meeting which was held on 29 January 2022. The ward representative for persons living with disability appealed to parents to send their girls to school. Most of the home based parents cite transport as the major hinderance their efforts to register their girls in schools.