The Untold Story
Neema is 14 years old. She started getting her periods some time ago but does not know why her body functions that way. Sometimes her belly is in so much pain that she cannot attend school. She failed the national exam and was told that she would not be able to continue with her studies. She lives in a village, so she stays home to take care of cows and goats. She is too afraid to ask her mother for help, because her mother already has so much to take care of. The "aunties" from the village tell her that girls become "slaughtered like a chicken" when they reach the age of maturity, and that it's just the way it is. She will be married and have children soon.
So, what is the problem?
How would you feel when you are in a helpless situation, when you are unable to function, and your everyday life is at the mercy of your feeble body, just to be told "that's the way it is"? As we look to harness new sources of energy for ourselves and our future generations, there is an energy sector that remains underutilized globally: Women! Ladies, you already know how powerful you are. To our beloved male counterparts: It does not take long to look around us, to know how our mothers, wives and daughters are making a difference in our lives. You know that life would not be the same without the love and support from the women around you. We all know that by supporting and empowering women worldwide, we would all benefit.
It's been more than a year since the Global Gag rule was reinstated by the U.S. government. The Global Gag Rule restricts virtually all global health assistance provided by the U.S. federal government, including the USAID, impacting $8.8 billion in financial support for global health programs. By inhibiting access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information, and by barring advocacy on abortion law reform, the Global Gage Rule ultimately undermines fundamental human rights to life, health, equality, information, privacy and expression. Understand this: It does not only affect abortion services (so in that sense, whether you're for or against abortions, it's irrelevant). Because of the cut in funding to reproductive health services in general, the support for basic health and sanitation in rural communities in Africa has also been severed.
Here’s what we’re doing about it
Each year, Amani Afrika identifies a group of people in need, and pools together resources to support them in a meaningful way. Those of you who have followed our journey since before the inception of the company know that we have purchased food to feed starving children, fixed bed nets at orphanages to help prevent malaria, provided vocational training to hearing-impaired boys to construct school desks, ...
This year, we decided that we should do something for girls in particular. I (Viv) have always wanted to something here for girls and women. I was particularly affected upon learning about the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (aka "The Global Gag Rule") last year. What a horrible name (aptly given for such a horrible rule)! My first thought was that it would affect the women in our community here adversely, and that the politicians overseas would never feel the pinch themselves. For quite a few months, I found it difficult to make sense of what it meant to live in this world, when world orders were in a disarray. Every morning I found myself under clouds of gloom, and lost the energy and motivation to be positive about life. Slowly, I emerged from the clouds and decided that we, as individuals at the grassroot level, can proactively do something to better the lives for ourselves and others, for as long as we believe in what we are doing.
We are very lucky to partner with Nicole Finseth, a registered nurse from Canada, who will be visiting us next month, to help educate young ladies and promote women's health, specifically on the topics of anatomy, puberty, reproduction, menstrual hygiene, and hopefully extend into discussions that would make the girls feel empowered.
Together, we are getting help in putting together "hygiene kits" that consist of reusable cloth pads, underwears, soap bars, towels and kit bags to distribute to school girls in rural areas, about 1.5-2.5 hours away from Arusha. The schools we plan to visit are: Oldonyosambu Primary, Oldonyosambu Secondary, Ranchi Primary, Orbomba Primary, Londigo Primary School, Nondoto Primary School, Lan'gata Dabash Primary School, Sokon Primary School, Olchoronyokie Primary School, Lemugur Primary School, then.... depending on whether we can raise enough funds, we would also like to visit Yakini Primary School, Yakini Secondary School, Enaboishu Secondary School, and several orphanages in the outskirts of Arusha.
Girls don't need to feel that growing up is an abnormal part of life. They shouldn't be made into thinking that by the age of maturity, the only option available is getting married and rearing children. They should be given the the chance and the resources to make a choice on how they would like to lead their lives. By helping them understand that menstruation is not a tabooed subject, and that they can go on with their education, we are making a big step in breaking the vicious poverty cycle.
You can join us
Between Nicole's and our fundraising efforts, we hope to raise over $10,000 in order to purchase 1200 kits to distribute to the girls in need.
The cost of each kit is approximately:
USD$7.50, CAD$10, AUD$11, TZS17,000
Do you think you can help? And do you think you can help spread the word to get your friends and your friends' friends on board?
And here are some amazing perks for supporting us
1) Gratitude, from the bottom of our hearts, and from the hearts of all these girls that you'll be helping;
2) Seeing photos from our project;
3) Feeling great that you are supporting a worthy cause!