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Periods without the stigma

Find out how Racheal and other teachers are tackling the stigma surrounding periods.

Racheal is a senior teacher at a primary school in Paliisa District, Uganda. In 2014, the school only had three toilets, shared by all the students and teachers.

The lack of toilets, and no access to water, meant that girls were often forced to miss school when on their period. In addition, they did not have sanitary towels, and faced embarrassment and stigma.

Build Africa has since transformed the school, providing fifteen new toilets. We’ve built washrooms for girls, so that they have somewhere to clean and change when on their periods. We've also constructed a borehole, so that they have access to water.

Teachers like Racheal have had training to help them support girls on their periods.

“Girls now are able to tell me and any other teacher when they are in their periods without fear,” says Racheal.

Girls know that they can go to Rachael for support. She is there to answer their questions, and provide sanitary towels and painkillers. This has opened a dialogue, and in turn has reduced the stigma of periods.

Rachael is also teaching children about keeping clean, both in school and at home. She speaks about hygiene during the school's weekly assemblies. This has improved girls’ confidence, especially when on their periods.

A new borehole at the school means that children no longer have to walk over 2km to fetch water. This was often a dangerous journey, especially for girls. The distance meant that children spent a lot of time absent from school. In fact, up to 50 children would be absent on a Monday, as demand for water was particularly high on this day.

“All homes have tippy taps for handwashing, the pit latrines are cleaned and cleanliness among children has improved,” says Racheal. “We therefore thank Build Africa for this timely intervention. We are now looking at how best we can improve our performance since our WASH needs have been addressed.”

Girls at the school have noticed the impact of the new facilities and training.

Edith is a P6 pupil at the school. She says: “We are proud to be associated with Build Africa. Before their interventions, we used to use any cloth as a sanitary pad, we did not know signs that we are about to go into menstruation and we were not bold enough to talk about it. But now, after the trainings we have had, we are able to make our own clean sanitary pads, we are able to tell that we are going to start our period and are able to talk with teachers about this.”