Water and Pads Project

Update Summer 2022

At present we are updating and editing some WP flyers. Heidi Bodmer, Pascale Vallée, Anne Yotchou are participating in this small working group. But right now we just want to tell to you what we feel about this wonderful project, and how well it is progressing.

Heidi’s overview

Despite all the problems our IAW colleagues in Africa and Asia had to face during Covid times, they are now back on the road with the water and pads project.

Until now 9 IAW member organizations have been active in 8 countries and have already worked with 15 schools. They will continue their health education in September with the start of the new term. They hope to reach out also to some more new schools, see the activities of RENATA and ZAW.

RENATA in Cameroon

On 23 February, 2022 a group of the RENATA organisation started its activities at the Bikok Technical High School South of Yaoundé. It was followed by Kongola Jeolao Public School at Maroua in the extreme north of Cameroon on March 18, 2022.
Catherine Gisèle ABA FOUDA, Executive Secretary National Network of Aunties Associations wrote in her report:

“…Let us emphasize that most parents are little or not interested in their daughters’ menstruation in the sense that they do not provide their children with sanitary pads, nor do they know how to provide this to them, things which might help the girls to manage their protection during the period-bleeding…

The different sub-themes discussed with the schoolgirls were for example:

  • Puberty and body hygiene. Period bleeding is a natural stage when growing up.
  • What to do when the bleeding starts? Menstrual hygiene, reusable and disposable pads etc…

The youth were actively participating. They asked questions about how to count their menstrual cycle. Their interest was huge, although it was not easy to mobilize the students due to a teachers’ strike…”

Water&Pads Project Renata: education about reproduction facts
Photo: The RENATA team

ZAW in Zambia

Here is an excerpt from the report written by Edah Chimya Executive Director of Zambia Alliance of Women

“…About 44 percent of girls drop out of school before completing their secondary education according to a study performed by BMC journal about Zambia.

Therefore in March 2022 the ZAW organization started again their Water and Pads activities in Chibwe Primary and Secondary School at Kabwe in Zambia.

When the young students were asked about their problems they gave the following answers:

  • Lack of gender responsive toilets
  • The school water pump got spoiled it’s hard to have enough water to clean up on menstrual period days.
  • The sanitary towels are expensive, most girls don’t afford hence they miss school when they are on their period.
  • The girls face a lot of stigma from the classmates as being on periods is unhygienic to them.”
Edah Chimya (left) and Director of Chimbwe Primary School Zambia
Edah Chimya (left) and Director of Photo: Chimbwe Primary School Zambia

These urgent appeals are not new for our IAW colleagues on site. They all are very well aware of it, but due to our limited financial resources they also agree that priority must be given to the teaching of basic health knowledge.

Anne about her country

In Cameroon, a country located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the menstrual cycle is still a taboo. Our organization CEFAP has started the implementation of the “Water and Pad” project in the West region of Cameroon with 300 girls in 3 schools at Medjo. Subsequently, we extended the project to other regions of Cameroon such as the Center and the Far North.

Today we can say that the “Water and Pads” project really contributes to a better self-confidence of the schoolgirls. It also raises the awareness in the communities at large about what all girls are going through each month, the biological transformations generally called “periods” or “menses”.

We are estimating that our organization has reached now around 600 girls in 9 different schools. During these lessons the young students had chance for questions and talks. In addition the booklets are effecting a general change of behaviour towards girls and women.

The implementation in the various localities which had benefited from the project so far has not always been easy because of bad roads, insecurity due to socio-political instability in certain areas of Cameroon such as in the Far North and the lack of connection of certain areas to the Internet network. But all these barriers and obstacles have never prevented us from staying motivated and focused on our goals. Each time we saw the same passion to help these schoolgirls in order to support them for a better future. Education is one of the keys to getting there.

We look forward to move on with the implementation of the project for this year 2022 with 3 schools planned including the Guider High School in the Far North, the Kribi High School in the South. We are also going again to the Public School at Medjo, where everything had started…

Pascale from France

The monthly period is an essential part of life

The biological cycle gives a rhythm to women’s lives and allows to give life. It is crucial for humanity. But these cycles are tiring and sources of hormonal imbalances

Girls and women should have the chance to spend this time as carefree as possible. This is why they should have all necessary means for their hygiene and also some emotional support. The monthly period should be considered with respect and care and be perceived by all as an important source for our future.

It is a great joy to see the involvement of all these dedicated IAW coordinators to enable the education and training of young girls and boys about the female monthly cycle, source of so many difficulties: taboos, violence, ignorance, lack of hygiene and access to water, school follow-up…

The WP project is developing well. We hope to have around 20 schools participating with a total of several thousands of young people profiting of this exciting project.

Heidi summarizes

Water and pads is a very nicely growing project. But like every plant, it has to be watered that for. And the water in our case is money. We are happy about every donation!

Read more about all successful WP activities on the Water and Pads website

H.B. / P.V. / A.Y./ U.N.

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