Changing futures with sanitary towels

One of the first projects we started back in 2012 was our ‘RUMPS’ programme – teaching girls in school how to make reusable menstrual pads.

Since its inception, the RUMPS programme has seen a lot of growth, and a number of changes (and challenges!) along the way. Seven years on, thousands of women and girls have been taught to make sanitary towels from cheap, easily available materials, allowing them to stay in education for longer and be empowered to make healthy choices going into their future. Imagine every month having to avoid going anywhere, including school, because you don’t have access to sanitary products. Missing out on a week of school every month means girls in Uganda don’t progress as they should through primary and secondary school, giving them a disadvantage that can impact the rest of their lives. The RUMPS initiative seeks to change this and help girls and women in Butaleja overcome this hurdle, enabling them to reach their full potential.

Grace, social worker at a little bit of HOPE leads this project, going into schools and visiting women community groups, with a group of willing and brilliant volunteers. In this week’s blog, she gives us an insight into what it’s really like to head into a school and teach a bunch of teenagers to make sanitary towels.

“This month I went to Buhasango Primary School and taught 76 girls, five female teachers and one male teacher to make RUMPS. The girls were sub-grouped into eight smaller groups and came up with their own names, such as Chinese group, Uganda group, Kenyan Girls, Indian Ocean, African Group, Lillian Group, Sudanese Group and Tubonge Group. The girls loved naming their sub groups, and were happily involved in the training, being encouraged by us and their teachers to work hard in making many pads. The girls were eager to have fun making the pads and ‘compete’ with each other, trying to win the prizes for commitment and continuity going into the future. It was great to see the teachers’ engagement too, something which is important to the sustainability of the programme. They were so happy and thankful for the training that would enable their girls to stay in school. We also spent time with the girls educating them on other important issues that affect so many girls and young women in the district, such as early child marriages, becoming a young mother, and reproductive health. I also encouraged the girls to read hard and excel in their studies so as to be happy in the future.

One of the girls, Ruth, asked me what she should do to become a social worker, like me, in the future. I told her and the rest that they ought to read very hard, not to engage in relationships at an early age, be disciplined at school and always consult their teachers to help them succeed until they reach university.

The girls were so happy and thankful for the advice and at the end of the session they promised to work hard and that they would call me in future to celebrate their achievements.”