This month, we are drawing attention to Global Charities. A charity very close to our hearts is Play Action International (formerly East African Playgrounds), who Sophie volunteered with last summer. We reached out to the global charity to understand more about how periods affect children in Uganda.
Play Action International
In a study carried out in 2012, covering 140 schools, it was found that about half of the female students will miss 1-3 days of school each month. There are inadequate menstrual facilities around schools with 70% of head teachers stating they are not satisfied with the facilities. The study also revealed that over 50% of female teachers confirmed there is no provision for menstrual pads for schoolgirls, with their means of coping being old cloth, dirty napkins and other un-hygienic materials.
While it’s important to recognise that these findings are specific to this study, period poverty and feelings of shame are commonplace. Many girls haven’t heard about menstruation so when they start their period, it can be a frightening experience. “For some, the inconvenience of menstruation causes them to drop out of school altogether, making them far more likely to end up in early marriages or become teenage mothers. Often marriage is seen as the best solution for coping with the expense of managing periods.” - Women Across Frontiers.
With lower attendance rates and reduced numbers of girls completing their education, it's clear that there is huge progress to be made. “Uganda’s government is all too aware of the problem. In 2015, its Ministry of Education introduced its “Menstrual Hygiene Management charter,” designed to halt the trend of girls dropping out of school at the onset of menstruation. Since then, it’s been working alongside Plan International and other NGOs to provide menstruation training for pupils and teachers and monitor the standard of menstrual hygiene facilities in schools.” - Women Across Frontiers.
Play Action International, an organisation dedicated to enriching disadvantaged children’s lives through play, has been broadening its programmes to reach vulnerable groups, like girls, whose lives have been impacted further by the Coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, as part of an aid distribution to support residents of Namuwongo, Uganda, they received much-needed sanitary supplies, along with other essentials like food and soap. The charity continues to adapt a flexible approach to its programmes of work as the needs of those it supports change. They are now working to install hand-washing facilities in many of the playgrounds they have built, helping to improve hand-hygiene and facilities for children and communities.
Find out more about Play Action International, visit: https://playactioninternational.org/