Orange SL Rolls-Out 2,000 Menstrual Hygiene Packs to Schools

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    By Fatmata Jengbe

    The bold step taken by Orange Sierra Leone in collaborating with the Ministry of Basic  and Senior Secondary School Education to dish out sanitary pads to secondary school going pupils came to an end on the 4th November, 2019 after rolling out two thousand 2000 menstrual hygiene packs to twenty identified schools across the Western Urban and Rural and Districts.

    The menstrual hygiene kits consist of five menstrual pads, a detergent soap, menstrual calendar and a towel  and they were offered to one hundred pupils each in twenty secondary schools and is considered  to be part of the first phase of a total distribution of 10,000 menstrual hygiene packs to one hundred schools over a period of five years across the country.

    The distribution process started at the Government Technical Secondary School in the West through to Vine Memorial, Rokel, Model, Tombo, Peninsula, Municipal, Ahmadiyya, St. Helena, Independence, FAWE Waterloo, Laura Dove, Murray Town Army and Services Juba Secondary schools, amongst others. Each of the twenty schools visited received one hundred packs and the items were handed over to the school authorities.

    Desmond Spaine, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Orange Sierra Leone and his team went through the twenty (20) schools and explained the purpose for the donation to all the pupils and school authorities which, according to Mr. Spaine, was consistent with their support to the Free Quality Education scheme which was launched by President Julius Maada Bio on 20th August, 2018 in Freetown.

    He reiterated the point that during the launching of the scheme by the President at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, their organization, Orange Sierra Leone committed 1.5 USD million material support to the scheme.

    Mr. Spaine told the various schools visited that the company and the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education had designed five projects out of the USD1.5 million material support and that the distribution of 10,000 menstrual hygiene packs to one hundred schools across the country, was just one of such five projects.

    The CSR Manager told school authorities that they at Orange Sierra Leone are concerned that school girls are increasingly challenged to stay in school when they are experiencing their menstrual periods.

    He added that the accessibility to menstrual hygiene packs while in school is also a challenge for the girls mainly due to the economic status of their homes.

    The CSR Manager recounted that this was what informed the designing of such a project in collaboration with the MBSSE.

    He also pointed out that for the effective implementation of the project, they contracted a Girl Child Organization, Girl Child Network Sierra Leone, to help with the production of reusable and eco-friendly hygiene packs for the girls and also to deliver a short talk to the girls and school authorities in all the schools visited on the management of their menstruation periods.

    Madam Anita Koroma or her representatives were also present across all the twenty schools visited and they delivered short talks on what menstruation means to the girls; how they should properly manage themselves during this period and other do’s and don’ts while in school.

    They underscored the point that the issue of menstruation which used to be a ‘no go area’ should no longer be a taboo and that girls should open up the conversation to all that are concerned including their teachers and parents.

    They also informed the girls on how to use the pads and also intimating them that proper use of their menstrual calendar will not require them to take contraceptives while in school.

    The school authorities at all the twenty schools visited lauded Orange Sierra Leone for the gesture. Some noted that they were already spending huge sums of money in providing disposable menstrual hygiene packs for school girls whenever they witness their menstrual periods in school, especially for the first time.

    They noted that with the intervention of Orange Sierra Leone they have been relieved of such a burden. They assured the company that they will use the items for their intended purpose.

    Other school authorities also drew the attention of Orange Sierra Leone and other partners to consider the un-availability of WASH facilities in most of their schools and noted that effective management of menstrual hygiene packs would not take place without adequate WASH facilities in schools.

    Representatives of schools girls in most of the schools visited thanked Orange Sierra Leone for contributing to their menstrual welfare while in school.

    They acknowledged the fact that they were challenged when undergoing their menstrual periods in school especially for the first time.

    They thanked President Bio for rolling out the Free Quality Education which, according to them, is now drawing the attention of various private sector organizations to provide various services for them to stay in school.

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