May Menstrual Health Pilot Workshop is a Success!

“The best one yet!” says OCF Executive Director, Mrs. Josephine Barclay. “Life-changing!” say the participants.

Some girls walked an hour to school as usual in the Liberian town of Salayea on Friday, May 17th. What was different was that, for the first time, these 150 girls in grades three through nine excitedly assembled at the town hall for a day of workshops on Menstrual Health. Each student received a free lunch of chicken and greens over rice and the gift of a “Pad for Her” kit containing 10 washable sanitary pads, panties, soap and additional toiletries.

I asked Mrs. Barclay why she said this workshop, sponsored by International Neighbors, was the best out of the many she has given to over 4,000 girls and women since 2018.

  • First, the participants were hungry for knowledge. While the course was aimed at younger students, ten high school students begged to be included. The overflow crowd beyond the 150 pre-registered students listened outside the doors. The district health officer and a representative of church-funded school both asked for additional workshops for even more remote locations.
  • Second was the enthusiastic response to the new pilot course material that included a session on puberty and the menstrual cycle. Multiple students openly discussed their problems managing menstruation and stayed after the program to ask more questions. The principal, Mr. Jacob G. Nyanquoi, requested and received the visual aids which he will use for future classes.
  • Third was the extensive community involvement. Mrs. Matorma Sanyon, Paramount Chief, spoke, encouraging the students to complete their studies. Mrs. Yassah Jamah, Chair Lady, organized volunteers who supplied firewood and cooked the lunch. Also, two other teachers learned to replicate the instructions on using and washing the reusable pads.

Amazingly, over 20 students phoned the week after the workshop to thank Josephine Barclay for the kit and the information. One girl described how the workshop had changed her life. She said that she had been reluctant to leave the house during her period because of the way she smelled. She argued with her mother every month over going outside. Now she has pads to change as often as needed and knows how to clean them. “My mother and I are so happy! Now I don’t smell bad!

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