A young woman, upset after witnessing people laughing at a young girl whose clothes were soiled because she did not have sanitary towels during her period, is using her anger to change lives.
Shumani Netshipise (21), born to a poor family in Makuya village, in Mutale, has established a non-profit organisation called Comfort Care Givers. The aim of the organisation is to buy and donate sanitary towels to rural orphans and school girls who cannot afford to purchase the products for themselves.
'Blood on her backside'
Despite government’s recent commitment to abolishing the 15% tax on sanitary towels, many young women in rural Vhembe struggle to afford the cheapest sanitary pads, resulting in them using rags, paper and plastic which pose a high risk of infections.
The 21-year-old Marketing Management student at Makwarela FET said she was touched earlier this year when she saw people laughing at a distressed young school girl with blood on her clothes.
“One day on my way home, I came across a young girl who was coming from school and people were laughing at her. Then I realised that she had blood on her backside. When I asked her what was wrong she told me that she was having her period and does not have any sanitary towels. I was upset because I can relate to her experience, and that time I felt helpless because didn't have any sanitary products or money on me to help her,” said Netshipise.
Netshipise said that it pains her when women make fun of fellow women who cannot afford to buy sanitary towels.
Restoring dignity and self-esteem
“As women we need to support each other, instead of making fun of those who cannot afford to buy pads. It is wrong. We need to stick together, because laughing at someone can negatively affect their whole life as it destroys their self-esteem,” she said.
Her organisation visits rural schools and works closely with school management to identify the girls who cannot afford to buy sanitary towels. They currently provide over 60 young girls with sanitary towels each month.
Rural learners miss school due to not having sanitary pads or because of severe pains they experience during their periods. Most of them also cannot afford pain medication.
“I use my pocket money and donations to buy the towels as my main aim is to restore dignity and self-esteem to poor and orphaned girls. We want to help as many girls as possible, but to achieve that we need donations from people who can afford to help,” she added. - Health-e News.
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