Sewing Success: Alice’s Story
How do you support young women when they get their period – when many are too poor to afford underwear, and none have access to clean water or decent toilets at school?
This was the dilemma Alice, a teacher at Lubunda Primary School in Zambia, had to face. Every week, she saw the profound impact the lack of these essential resources was having on female students at the school.
“Absenteeism was high among girls. Some could stay away from school for a week, when they finish their periods,” Alice explains. “Many girls have ended up stopping school because sometimes they are stigmatised during their periods.”
Today, things are very different at Lubunda. Thanks to amazing supporters like you, we’ve provided access to piped water and improved toilets with inbuilt washrooms, which have made a huge difference.
You’ve also helped us provide another piece of equipment which has totally transformed life at the school: sewing machines.
“We came up with the initiative of making reusable sanitary pads, because most of the girls are poor and can’t afford to buy them month by month,” says Alice, who is now a coordinator for menstrual hygiene management.
Today, more than 300 girls form the Girls’ Club at the school, and make the pads for themselves and their classmates, selling them at a reduced price or providing them for free.
They’ve also created a support group, where female students can share their experiences and provide help and advice to one another about their periods.
As well as seeing their sewing skills improve, the girls also know they can stay in class throughout their period – and make the most of their education.
“Girls should not stay at home because of menstruating. We are breaking the silence, because menstruation is natural.”