We requested them to work with their class teachers, who interact with the girls on a day to day basis and know the challenges they face, to identify female students from each school who would benefit from the NDT pad programme.
On the 29th January we held a rural schools mixed tournament. We had 5 schools (Kabkara, Machakha, Khakala, Kibindoi and Khakala) taking part from the rural parts of Bungoma County, with 30 underprivileged girls from each school, totalling to 150 girls (12-17 years old). They were joined for netball games by 75 boys (11-16 years old) from the same schools.
Machakha Primary emerged the winner followed by Kaprot Primary then Kibindoi Primary in third. The kids had a lot of fun playing and were very grateful to NDT for making it possible.
NDT Kenya Chairperson, Mr Fred Wanyonyi, who is also Principal at Kabkara High School made the guest list joined by Mary Emoit, head teachers drawn from the partner schools, teachers and the NDT Kenya volunteers who had trained the teams (during P.E time) for a week prior to the tournament. The 150 girls who participated were particularly grateful for the sanitary pads that NDT had donated and the teachers who spoke drove home the point of what a massive difference the pads brought into the lives of their pupils and their quest for academic excellence. We also donated pads to the NDT Kenya female volunteers who have been conducting training.
On Monday 1st February 2016, the NDT Kenya team of Fred, Mary and myself went round in our urban schools distributing the pads to the urban schools. Unfortunately due to logistics we could not have these schools participate in the tournament. We wanted Mary to come face to face with the reality and the difference made by the pad donation. So we distributed pads to a total of 90 girls in 3 of our urban schools (Mukhaweli, Sio & Central Baptist). Again, the same procedure used in rural Bungoma was applied: we spoke with the NDT representative teacher in the individual schools who later liaised with class teachers and head teacher to identify and recommend 30 needy pupils to benefit in the Pad programme.
We were forced to fight back tears as teacher Regina of Central Baptist Primary gave her testimony on the struggles her girl pupils had gone through in the face of their menstrual flow.
She said:- “Many of my pupils come from the slum area next to the school and therefore something as basic as a pad is considered a luxury by the poor families. Many girls have dropped out of school after ostensibly being laughed at and called names by boys in class following stains and spots. A few girls are brought up and are staying with single fathers and therefore discussing about menstruation and its needs is out of topic considering some backward African beliefs where it is a taboo to some for a daughter to discuss matters of sexuality with their fathers. Some girls end up engaging in illicit sex to cater for the pads leading to early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It is a whole new world the pad programme is bringing into our kids here.”
We are shocked to hear of these awful situations. To explain a little more - As the girls lack pads and need them dearly and their parents cannot provide, they are easily lured by money from motorbike operators and other members of the public to engage in illicit sex outside school time and in return get monetary incentives to keep it a secret. There has been a damning report of many primary school girls getting early pregnancy due to poverty. Some engage in illicit sex and given money that they use as pocket money since parents cannot provide.
I was the other day in Kibindoi Primary School and had a look at the class register and I was saddened to see the high rate of girls absenteeism in school. We believe that trend of absenteeism will change with the NDT pad programme in place. We are having monthly visits to schools to talk to the girls, motivate them and remind them that NDT loves them through the pads and netball.
So we are passionate to continue the programme as long as we can.
Joseph Olita Omekede
Coordinator – Netball Development Trust Kenya