By Varaidzo Muzonzini
Poverty stretches far beyond the lack of food and water, as menstrual poverty in Zimbabwe hits most rural girls.
5-year-old Gokwe girl ‘Chihelele’, born Ropafadzo Nzvenga under the Ropa Chihera Foundation, under the Support the Girl Child initiative is donating sanitary wear and masks to girls sitting for the ZIMSEC examinations.
“When rural girls’ monthly period comes, they have no option but to dismantle homemade pillowcases.
Most of the young girls miss school, as some experience heavy bleeding and the makeshift pad cannot sustain the blood which spoils uniforms, and we are trying our best to make sure that no girl misses any examination. They are too poor to buy the sort of basic products, they rely on teachers’ donations, old newspapers, torn towels, plants, cow dung among others,” said Martin Chipoka her manager.
He also added that their wish is to ensure that no girl child misses their examination or feels uncomfortable due to the absence of proper sanitary wear.
“The more we get the more we reach. We were able to give sanitary wear, masks, and toiletries to over 150 girls in Gokwe at Katamba Secondary School, it was with great difficulty but we made it. We are grateful for the support Chihera fans gave us and it will be greatly appreciated if they continue supporting,” he added.
“About 72% of schoolgirls in rural areas do not use commercial sanitary wear, resorting to unhygienic means, while 62% miss school every month while menstruating. With the rising cases of cervical cancer, and the use of unhygienic things being used during menstruation most rural women and girls are at high risk of being affected,” said Anna Chauke a teacher at Katamba Secondary School, Gokwe.
They urged other organizations to help underprivileged girls with menstrual health facilities to reduce the risk of cervical cancer due to the use of unhygienic materials being used during menstruation.