Why do grown men in America have such a difficult time discussing something that happens to women all around the world? It happens to their wives, daughters and mothers every single month. “It” is her period, or menstrual cycle.
Recently, I experience this disgust amongst my own friends. When I proudly displayed the Menstrual Hygiene Kits that I have been making, all of the women in the group were interested and excited, but the men completely shut down. If we can’t talk about it in 21stcentury America, I can only imagine the conversations that are not taking place in less-developed parts of the world.
For many of us, when we first start our period, we often have our loving mothers, a wise older sister, or a caring aunt to explain what is happening to our bodies. They tell us what to do and give us sanitary pads to use. But for some, even in the United States, our own mothers won’t broach the subject. Unfortunately, the subject of menstruation still has a stigma attached to it. This is still true in the developed world, but especially so in developing countries. In many cultures, young girls are sent to a shed for the 7 days it takes for them to shed the blood that has accumulated in their uterus. It is all part of the cycle of life and it is an amazing thing that happens to women that allows us to become mothers, to give life to another human being.
In Nepal, young girls often miss a week of school each month because they do not have anything other than an old rag or leaves to protect their clothing from blood stains. There are many products on the market to use during this time of the month, but most of them are not re-usable or sustainable. The Menstrual Hygiene Kits that we are making will protect a girl from embarrassing “accidents” and will last several years.
When we distribute the kits to a group of girls we also provide a class about how to use the kits. This program is part of The TEJ Initiative. TEJ (also known as The Educational Journey) was designed and written by Dr. Anju Ranjit, specifically for girls in grades 9-12 in rural Nepal. The girls meet weekly with mentors to discuss important topics that are not being addressed in their schools or homes. Our goal is to keep these vulnerable girls in school and give them the tools to realize their dreams.
We are establishing a small production center in Nepal, where women will make Menstrual Hygiene Kits. The kits will be made with materials purchased in Nepal and will be provided to girls who cannot afford to purchase menstrual hygiene supplies. With your help, Project for a Village will be able to support not only young girls but also local village women who will be producing the kits. The cost of each kit is $8.00 and includes 2 panty liner shields, 4 absorbent pads, 1 pair of panties, washing soap and plastic bags to use as a “washing machine.” Each kit will also provide the woman who made it with a small salary and allow the production center to purchase supplies to continue the project. Help us keep our girls in school, and provide an income for other women while doing so.
Please see our website, www.projectforavillage.org for more information.