My name is Tariqa and I am a female individual who has recently started a Sanitary pad campaign in my hometown area of Mombasa, Kenya. This Island is famous because of the historic monument the Fort Jesus which stands at the cultural heritage of the city, The Old Town, and famous for its long beaches. But amidst the hustle and bustles of the sunny island life, many young adolescent girls and women are victims of what we refer to as period poverty, which is the inability to afford hygienic sanitary products for menstrual hygiene management.
For a while now, we have been suffering sewage floods and blockages in my locality. It has been a recurring issue and our municipal council workers take long to come and fix the problem, so at times we are forced to get a local experienced person to help us out. We have severally complained about these sewage floods but to no improvement. So as a concerned resident, i took it upon myself to investigate a little more, and so the when the cleaners came back after another episode, i kept a keen eye, and i was atound upon my discovery.
They were removing peices of rags/cloth that were cut out like sanitary towels. This meant that there were households whom up to date are unaware or ashamed of talking about periods or buying period products and had no knowledge of proper sanitary disposal methods. Therefore, i did a little bit of some more investigation and found out that We have many families living on average or low income, most of them cannot afford to buy sanitary towels and diapers for their children, and that there are still girls who either don't attend school during their periods or who have dropped out of school completely because they are considered ready for marriage.
I always assumed that period poverty and shame is widespread in Rural areas of my country, Kenya, but in a city, like Mombasa, i was saddened and still am, to know that such issues exist widely. I started taking more interest in this matter, and hence this passion led to the formation of The Red Dot Initiative. This is a personal campaign, funded by me and a few of my family members and 2anonymous friends to end period poverty in my locality. We will do this via monthly sanitary pad distributions in the local area schools and households and at the same time sensitize these girls and women by providing them with advise and information about mentrual hygiene management and disposal methods.
We have a very hush hush (private) sort of culture when it comes to discussing issues related to girls, and topics like mentsruation and sex are considered embarassing and shameful to discuss. I heard a case where a local teacher used to sexually molest girls in a local learning centre. He would kiss them on their lips, touch them on their private parts and even take some of them home with him and do dirty stuff with them. He used to threaten these girls not to say anything and he used to tell them that he was teaching them to be proper women. By the time this came to light, he had already abused atleast 15 girls and they were scared out of their brains to tell on him. Action was taken against this sick man, but this was going on for almost 2 years. These girls were scared and embarassed and they felt threatened and bound by culture. it was one of the hardest things to do, to get these girls to spill the truth, and alot more atrocities are happening to young girls behind closed doors which we are unaware of, and they are too naive to discuss or too scared to tell.
Therefore, via this initiative, I am planning to work together with our local Community Based Organization, The Mwembeni Welfare (Manolitos), to break the silence, to educate and to raise as much awareness as possible. A famous African proverb quotes that, 'A child is raised by a village', and along with this village, The Red Dot Initiative intends to become a sanctuary for these women and adolescent children.
On the 28th of July 2019 we have already planned a distribution and sensitization event, targetting 57 adolescent girls and about 40 households within the area. We have everything already in place for our small area event. I am running a face book page called, The Red Dot Initiative, Changing Lives, One Sanitary Pad, at a Time.
We also have a tentative plan for next month (August) already in motion for disrtibutions in our local area school called Early Blossoms Academy targetting primary school girls from class 6 to 8 which we would like to raise some funds for. Already I have received a donation of a whole carton of sanitary pads for that school event planned for August.
This initiative is planning to become a continuous SANITARY PAD campaign targetting the Old Town area and eventually run City wide campaigns. Our main targets are Local Education Centres (Madrasas) and local government schools and households where possible. Please support my cause and help me elevate the women in my community. Buy my tees and market them out for me to help me end period poverty and shame. I dont only require Sanitary pads for this campaign but also materials like brochures and flyers explaining the dos and donts while mentruating and alot more. Every Charity hand extended will assist me and my fellow concerned volunteers change lives.