Tanzania, Mwanza region
Our girls health project is called “Nguvu na Hadhi”, which means “Strength and Dignity”. It’s based on Proverbs 31:25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing.”
We’ve partnered with a local church (Igombe Christian Centre) to educate and empower girls to take care of their changing bodies.
Phase 1 started in November 2019 with 65 girls. This phase was all about learning. Who are these girls? What are their stories? Which lessons worked and which ones didn’t? Where were the knowledge gaps? How can we improve our pad design?
COVID-19 affected our project last year, but we used that time to re-evaluate, re-invent, and re-energize.
Phase 1 finished with a big celebration in July 2020. In total, girls received over 20 hours of biblical teaching and menstrual health education. Let me tell you, watching them grow in knowledge, confidence, and faith was the biggest blessing of Phase 1!
For Phase 2 to be successful, we need to have strong communication with Kisundi Primary School, Bugogwa Primary School, Igombe Primary School, and Bugogwa Secondary School. Our ability to be flexible and to compromise is also very important, as we’re at the mercy of the school leadership. This is why we met with the Education Officer in Igombe to get his endorsement. Needless to say, we were thrilled when he wrote a letter to each headmaster on our behalf.
Fast forward to November 2020… we officially launched Phase 2! We’re currently working at Kisundi Primary with the first 140 girls. In early March 2021, we’ll move onto Bugogwa Primary with the next 300 girls. While Phase 2 has a lot of moving pieces, we’re encouraged by the response so far. We’re learning new things each session, but the key is to acknowledge our weaknesses and re-evaluate when necessary.
“I love these sessions because I’m learning things I didn’t know. It’s the first time I can ask questions like this.”
(Stella, 13 years old)
Girls like Stella are why we launched this girls health project. Research tells us that there’s a significant gap in countries across Sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to menstruation, so we’re trying to speak into this gap. It’s simple: we believe every girl should be educated and empowered to take care of their changing bodies.
“I like this project because it helps the community. Many people in the village of Igombe don’t understand about menstruation, but this project is helping these girls and families.”
Hiring Theopister was the best decision we made! She’s not only widely respected in the community, but she has a real gift of teaching.
Theopister lives in Igombe with her husband, Bishop Rodrick Shoo, and their 5 children. On any given day, you can find her preaching, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, leading seminars, visiting the community, or teaching the girls in our project.
Theopister’s humble nature and love for people is what makes her so effective in this role. She’s a wonderful addition to the team and we couldn’t be more thankful!
“I thank God every day for this opportunity. I’m happy I can use my sewing gifts to help these young girls.”
Esther was another wonderful find! She was hired in July 2020, as we needed a tailor to make all 6,500 reusable pads for Phase 2. She’s humble and soft-spoken, but extremely committed to her work.
Esther lives in Igombe with her husband, Joseph, and their 3 children. On any given day, you can find her running after her 2.5 year old, sewing, singing in the choir, attending mid-week worship services, or working away in our office. Did I mention she’s already made 3,000 pads since July?!
Esther’s heart to use her tailoring gifts is what makes her so effective in this role. She completes our little team and I couldn’t be more thankful!
Laura has been living in Mwanza, Tanzania since November 2018 as a Community Development Facilitator. Her role is to help Igombe Christian Center (a local church) to launch a girls’ menstrual health project, and to see that through to completion. Laura is sent by EI Canada.