By Fatmata Jengbe
This week, starting on the 28th October 2019 to 31st October 2019, a total of twelve schools have so far benefitted from donations of menstrual sanitary pads by Orange Sierra Leone.
On Monday Ahmadiyya, Independence and St. Helena Schools received pads. On Tuesday 29th October 2019 pupils of the Government Municipal, Laura Dove and Ansarul Secondary School got theirs; and on Wednesday 30th October 2019 Orange SL reached Government Model, Rokel and UMC Secondary Schools and supplied them too. While on Thursday, 31st October, 2019 the Company donated menstrual hygiene packs to the Murray Town Municipal Junior, Constance Cummings John and King Fahad Secondary Schools in Freetown.
This is close to distributing almost 2,000 menstrual hygiene packs in twenty different schools in Freetown by ORANGE which is targeting 10, 000 packs within a five year period to one hundred schools in the country.
The Orange team headed by Desmond Spaine started the distribution of the hygiene packs late last week in the East, Western Rural, Central and West of Freetown. The donation was follow-up by a short talk on the reproductive health and the use of the eco-friendly menstrual packs.
All those who benefitted expressed profound gratitude to Orange SL for the kind gesture and further stated that they were looking forward to more goodies from the company.
The menstrual education and donation spree of Orange Mobile Company and its partners has continued to reach more schools in the Western Area. The items were donated by Orange Sierra Leone as a commitment made during the launching of the Free Quality Education in support of the Government of Sierra Leone with USD 1.5.million material support.
The programme is one of the five projects designed by Orange Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Education to distribute 2,000 hygiene packs to twenty schools and the remaining four years will also lead to the distribution of the remaining 8,000 packs to other eighty schools in the country.
Earlier next year Orange Sierra Leone will roll out the other four projects across the country which is all geared towards improving the innovative abilities of the children, provision of rural electrification to rural schools and education of teachers online.
Authorities at the Secondary Schools in Freetown lauded the efforts of Orange Sierra Leone for venturing to help them with sanitary pads for girls. They acknowledged that the girls need the hygiene pads to be able to stay in school. While thanking Orange Sierra Leone, one of them appealed for WASH facilities for the girls which according to him are non-existent in most schools.
During the donation, Desmond Spaine, Head of CSR for Orange Sierra Leone, noted that the company’s support towards menstrual hygiene in schools was consistent with the clarion call by Government of Sierra Leone to support the Human Capital Development flagship project of the Government.
He continued that this was in partnership with the Girl Child Network Sierra Leone, a child activist organization operating in the northern part of Sierra Leone, and helping young girls in schools with the management of their menstrual periods with the provision of hygiene packs and education while in school.
Orange has identified that getting girls to stay in school during their menstrual periods has been a very serious challenge and this has led many of them to miss classes and examinations. The girls who could not afford to buy disposable packs while on their menstruation period in schools were encouraged to pay attention to their schooling as they were provided with hygiene packs.
The menstrual hygiene packs are designed to be eco-freindly provided by manufactured in Makeni. They are not harmful to the environment as the other disposable ones are and have proven to be very safe and good.
Abibatu Kamara of the Girl Child Network Sierra Leone talked to the girls how to use the packs and encouraged them to open up the discussions around their menstrual periods as it is no longer a taboo. According to her, girls should celebrate themselves hence they started seeing their menstruation as it is the start of their womanhood. The authorities from various schools visited lauded Orange Sierra Leone for the brilliant initiative which, according to them, has been greatly affecting the retention rate of girls in schools.
They assured Orange Sierra Leone that they will execute the project and ensure that the pupils are supported with the packs and counselling whenever they are undergoing their menstrual periods. Representatives of the schools visited and distributed with the hygiene packs thanked and appreciated Orange Sierra Leone for guiding them through a critical period in their lives.