It’s Definitely Not Pants
We’ve been providing pants as part of the period poverty initiative, but we couldn’t let the younger girls continue to go commando. It trains them for the day when they, too, will be given the period poverty packs. Thanks to all the donors and to the Scottish charity Smalls for All, we have brought smiles to the faces of the 7-12-year olds. Pants have raised their self-esteem too.
The Return to School
Children are starting to return to schools. It is a graded return, starting with the older children; those who are due to take exams; the other students will go back in October. The first of our girls to return was Telina Munthali, one of our sponsored girls, who had had to leave her school last October as school fees were unable to be paid.
Her classmates were overjoyed to see her back and they all cried, and so did she, but with tears of happiness. Levison told them, eventually, to dry their eyes, as he needed photographs.
In this photo you will see a tapped bucket.
The Foundation realised that although the four schools in the area have a water supply, they did not have hand-washing facilities to help keep the pupils safe. Many of the pupils did not have mandatory masks.
As the area’s NGO we take our responsibilities very seriously and thanks to generous supporters, we were able to buy the necessary supplies – tapped buckets, soap, pencils, pens and exercise books and blankets for the Foundation’s girls and take masks made by our girls.
Levison went to the four schools – Kalanga Primary; Chisenga Primary; Chisenga Day Secondary School and Chambo Primary.
The pupils and the staff were extremely grateful and sent their deepest thanks.
This is what the Minister of Education, Hon. Agnes Nyal.onje said, on the same day, at a ceremony where the US Ambassador handed over 4,400 handwashing stations:
‘...may I, therefore, take this opportunity to call upon other stakeholders, partners and individuals to emulate the United States government and support those schools that are also in need of handwashing facilities’.
We hope that, by now, most of the schools have the water stations that they need.
Every weekend the children are instructed in keeping safe. In a country which has such a high poverty level and in which other diseases, particularly malaria, are rife, COVID-19 is a profound worry.
The children practise social distancing and handwashing and are able to spread the information out to the wider community.
Not only have the girls who have taken so well to sewing been making items for period poverty, they’ve been busy making masks.
Mothers and Babies
Sarah has started a new initiative – to provide items for new mothers and their babies.
People have been knitting and crocheting in the UK. This photo is one example of the lovely work. Folk have also been donating baby items.
Levison has been in contact with the Chambo Health Centre and the staff are delighted with the idea.
New mums will know that if they go to the Health Centre they will receive one or two things for their baby (for free) and the nurse will be able to have a quick chat with mum and a look at baby, too, to check that both are OK.
The items will go out on the next container and so this initiative will probably start early in 2021.
The Foundation Nursery
When Levison found that pre-school children were congregating at the Centre on weekdays, first of all he gave them footballs and toys to play with and books to look at. The children wanted to stay all day but Levison realised that they were hungry and needed to have a meal.
A pilot nursery was set up for 50 children, funded by a generous family in the UK. The children come to the Centre three days a week and are taught by a qualified lady helped by mothers and one or two of the older girls in the village. Everyone pitches in to collect water, and firewood for cooking the nsima.
The children play, learn and are fed.
The pilot scheme has proved very successful but as we cannot expect one family to continue funding this indefinitely, we’re appealing for sponsors to keep it running so that this generation has a good start in life.
When girls do not have the necessary supplies to take care of themselves during their monthly periods they are shamed into staying at home. They are missing out on a week of school every month.
Two hand turn vintage Singer sewing machines have been donated to the foundation and some of the older girls have been practising making reusable cloth sanitary pads.
In the UK, we have had a great response to our appeal with people donating soap and pants.
A Scottish charity, Smalls for All, donated enough pants that each girl who is supported by the Foundation will each get three pairs.
Once more pads have been made and small drawstring bags, we aim to give each girl a bag with three pairs of pants, 5 reusable sanitary pads, a bar of soap and a leaflet with health education on. Hopefully, no girl will need to miss school due to her gender.
Update - June 2020
At the end of June the first 40 girls received their period poverty packs; a bag, five reusable sanitary towels, three pairs of pants, a bar of soap and a health information leaflet. The fairest way to do this was to give the packs to the eldest girls. Then more will be made until every girl who needs one of the bags will have one. More will be kept at the Foundation and girls will know that they can ask for a period poverty bag when they need it.
The girls who have made the majority of these bags and sanitary towels have had an insight as to what it will be like to work when they leave school, learning to use sewing machines, cutting fabric and hand sewing, working as part of a team and to deadlines. Most of them had not even seen a tape measure five months ago and we are incredibly proud of them, of their hard work and of their sewing skills.
There is now no need for girls to feel shame or to miss school for a week each month due to a normal bodily function.
We thank everyone who has made this project possible. There is a lot more to be done but it was another very special day in Ibuluma.