Periods are a drag.
Especially when they create a ripple effect of poverty.
In Jinja, Uganda, a local woman named Rose decided to devote her life to conquering women’s issues. In this region around 30% of girls drop out of school due to their periods. Not having access to proper supplies, lack of reproductive education, and shameful cultural beliefs has led to this high rate of female dropouts.
Once these girls leave school they are more likely to become pregnant at a young age, in some cases as young as nine. They are usually left abandoned and abused without a complete education, or practical training which creates all sorts of issues. A lack of marketable skills, few options, and a high risk to repeat the process with the next generation.
There are natives who have taken notice, and have started addressing this cycle, though. We were able to spend time with a group, titled WORI, really making strides. WORI, Women’s Rights Initiative, has put so much thought into every aspect of what they do.
WORI was created by Rose after seeing the struggles her mother faced as a single parent of 7. Her mother taught her the importance of setting goals and achieving them. After school Rose set off to make an impact in her home community.
Her first donor was non other than her mama. She raised additional funds with her colleagues through weekend bake sales and slowly was able to fund WORI. This NGO provides reproductive health education and gender based violence counseling (and soon a safe house). The dedication this organization has for their mission is inspiring. This organization stresses the importance that women and men need to be educated about the menstrual cycles. One of the ways they educate, is by sharing a educational program with local schools, for both boys and girls.
Once the education programs went out to the schools they responded to the need for hygiene products and better school bathroom facilities. They teach the girls to sew re-usable pads (using material from local shops) and educate them on all they need to do so that they don’t have to miss classes. Education is key to a healthy future for these Ugandan girls.
Rose compared her organization to her mama’s loving approach to parenting. Rose says, “When you leave the table she (mama) makes sure you are who you need to be.” She is now making sure that all the women coming to her table for help, whether it is domestic violence or for reusable pads, leave feeling the hope and dignity they deserve, to have successful futures and to make positive change for Uganda.