Living in: London, UK
A couple months before I joined WYSE I visited a school in Kibera, Kenya and after talking to the teachers, saw how girls were missing school because of their periods. Menstrual cups are rarely spoken about even though their financial and environmental benefits are huge, I saw an opportunity where I could bring these products to the schools in Kenya and provide them with a solution to this issue. It was WYSE that gave me the confidence to actually pursue this idea. I was lucky enough to meet Victor on the course, the founder of a youth charity in Kenya called Garden of Hope. Even though I was just 17 at the time, he believed that I could carry out this project successfully and provided me with links in Kenya to help Project Period become a reality.
On average, girls who can't afford sanitary products will miss two months of school, and those who can have to constantly rely on external organisations which hinder their independence as young women. Our aim was to give these girls a sustainable solution to help them take control over their bodies and their futures. Education is key for young adults living in slums, such as Kibera, to improve and grow their lives. For girls, attending school is made harder by the fact they don't have the tools to handle their menstruation so are forced to stay at home. Over this time they are missing crucial hours of school which could impact their future. The menstrual cup is a reusable product that lasts up to 10 years, providing it is cared for correctly. Not only does this lead to a reduction of waste caused by disposable sanitary products, but also lifts the financial burden of having to buy products every month. A menstrual cup gives girls the responsibility every woman should have over their own body.
Project Period is made up of a team of five 18 years olds. We spent 10 months fundraising, discussing and coordinating a trip to Kenya in which we give 200 menstrual cups to 7 different schools and deliver workshops for the girls to feel more comfortable talking about periods. In Kenya especially, periods are a taboo subject and aren't generally talked about amongst peers. During the workshops we got the girls to discuss when they started their periods and their feelings towards menstruation in small groups with one Project Period team member per group. We saw it was important for them to hear each others experiences in order to create a space in which their menstruation is welcomed and celebrated. We felt if we could give them a tool that made them feel liberated from charity donations, this would give them the confidence to be independent and succeed.