Heidi Rickels wrote -
In August, I will be returning to Malawi, a beautiful country known as the "Warm Heart of Africa." Malawians have many daily struggles from issues related to severe poverty.
For over a year now, I have been interning with Freshwater Project International, a non-profit which focuses on improving water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in Malawi, all of which are basic needs, and lack of access often inhibits every day tasks and lowers overall quality of life for many.
Women and young girls, however, often see the effects of this issue even more.
As part of FPI’s comprehensive WASH in Schools program, my colleague (Jordon Frank) and I have been tasked with developing a Menstrual Hygiene Management curriculum for 5 public primary schools in the rural areas outside of Lilongwe.
Lack of knowledge of menstruation and hygiene is often the cause of many health issues, including reproductive tract infections and sometimes even sterilization. Stigma surrounding menstruation in Malawi can often be connected to mental and emotional health issues and lack of proper supplies to manage menstruation often leads to reduced school attendance rates for fear of being ostracized by peers. In severe instances, myths surrounding menstruation can lead to child marriage, child pregnancy, STDs, and even increased chance of HIV transmission.
After conducting preliminary research on current cultural practices surrounding menstrual hygiene management in Malawi last year, Jordon and I have worked countless hours developing a comprehensive curriculum which uses games, stories, and diagrams in order to engage the students and encourage critical thinking and open discussion.
Using a “train the trainer” method, we will be returning to Malawi in order to train dozens of local teachers on the use of this curriculum. It is our hope that by opening up the discussion on menstruation and educating both students and teachers, of all genders, that we will not only improve the quality of sexual and reproductive health education in Malawi, but as a result will improve female attendance in schools, reduce the prevalence of child marriage and pregnancy, increase female agency, and finally, take one small, yet vital, step closer to gender equity around the world.
Your donation today will help to make that happen!
All of your tax-deductible donations will be directed towards Freshwater Project International and will help to cover costs for my trip such as airfare, food and housing while in country. Without your help, implementing this project would not be possible.
Any amount is appreciated!
With all my love,
Zikomo kwam biri,
Freshwater Project International Development Intern
M.A. International Development: Gender and Health
Josef Korbel School of International Studies, 2018