Teen girls need to go to school.
Education plays a vital role in securing a brighter future for impoverished children, youth, and communities – but especially for young women.
In fact, according to UNICEF, “Girls who receive an education are less likely to marry young and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. They earn higher incomes, participate in the decisions that most affect them, and build better futures for themselves and their families.”
This is why it’s so tragic that girls and young women who live in some of the hardest places on earth skip several days of school each month.
They aren’t lazy. It’s because they lack the proper hygiene items necessary to manage their menstrual cycle with dignity.
But, with the help of child sponsors and other generous supporters, Food for the Hungry (FH) empowers teen girls like Kame and Yekite to stay in school by supplying them with female dignity kits.
Kame: From Surviving to Thriving
Kame had the odds stacked against her. An orphan living with six siblings in a poor Kenyan community, her basic needs were barely covered and survival seemed impossible some days where she lived, an area plagued with droughts and food insecurity.
Going to school was important to Kame. She knew the difference an education could make for her future. But like many young women in her community, she often had to choose between buying food to eat or sanitary pads so she wouldn’t need to skip school.
It was really no contest. She and her siblings had to eat.
“Being unable to access sanitary towels made me stay home during my menstrual days,” Kame remembers. “I was uncomfortable attending school, attending to household chores, or playing with my friends at that time.”
But everything changed when FH entered her community. FH connected Kame with a child sponsor who helps her, her family – and her entire community – meet their needs each month. And this includes providing female dignity kits for both Kame and her sisters.
“Through educational and dignity kit support, I am able to attend school full time, as I was not able to do before,” Kame says. “I no longer fall behind and think about dropping out.”
Yekite: Skipping School No More
Yekite also found attending school to be an overwhelmng challenge – before FH entered her community in Ethiopia.
She didn’t know how to stay clean and comfortable at school while on her period. Neither did her female classmates. And the results were tragic.
“I missed school days while I was on my period due in fear of discrimination from other students,” she remembers. “I used to be absent many days from school every cycle.”
These fears also impacted Yekite’s academic performance, and filled her with shame. This is because, where she lives, there are many taboos associated with menstruation.
But not long after FH began to work in her community, Yekite received training and assistance so she could manage her period with dignity and confidence each month.
Equipped with the proper tools, knowledge, and confidence, Yekite and other young women in her school stopped missing class. Female dropout rates at her school decreased significantly. And even the taboos and stigmas surrounding menstruation eased, as girls and boys alike received education on the topic and were encouraged to be supportive of their classmates.
“After getting training on menstrual hygiene, I started using the female dignity kit. Now I come to school at all times without any shame,” Yekite shares. “Also, I now teach other girls how to make their own kits and help them learn to use it.”
Teen Girls Say Thank You
In communities FH serves all around the world, the lives of young women are being transformed by female dignity kits.
Teens are now able to fully embrace the opportunities an education provides to them and be hopeful about the bright future God has planned for their lives.
Their words of gratitude express how strongly they feel:
- “I am grateful for the sponsorship support in paying school fees, getting uniforms, and accessing dignity kits, which have helped me attend school without fail. I hope to finish school and become a teacher. Thank you to FH and my sponsor for your support. God bless you!” —Kame, Kenya
- “FH is giving me dignity kits, which help me attend my school without absenteeism.” —Ebise, Ethiopia
- “I am a 9th grade student and 17 years old. I am from Ethiopia. FH is supporting me with dignity kits so that I can attend my school properly. God bless FH.” —Kena, Ethiopia
- “I need to thank FH Ethiopia for ensuring quality education and gender equity by implementing menstrual hygiene in our school. I hope I can share my experience with others and that FH will provide this opportunity to other schools.” —Yekite, Ethiopia