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Catholic Entity in Chad Providing Menstrual Hygiene Education among Refugee Students

The Girls Club at Dar el Salam camp received MHM kit and training by JRS, along with ACRA and CELIAF, and the support of the MENFP, UNICEF and ECW. Credit: Jesuits Refugee Service (JRS)

More than 6,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) attending Chad’s local schools are benefitting from the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) education spearheaded by Jesuits Refugee Service (JRS), an international refugee entity of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

In a Wednesday, January 12 report, JRS leadership says that access to MHM kits is essential to the girls for it not only protects them from public shame but also from dropping out of school or missing school.

Through the MHM program, which is being implemented in partnership with Education Cannot Wait, UNICEF, and the Chadian Ministry of Education & Professional Training, JRS leadership says the women will be empowered to contribute more in their respective communities.

“With proper attention, care, and resources, young women can feel empowered to carry on with their schooling, gain confidence and independence, and contribute more than ever to their communities,” JRS leadership says.

In the report, 14-year-old Hazida who benefited from the training narrates her experience when she first had her periods and says that she felt ashamed.

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“The first time I had my period I felt scared; I thought I was sick. Yet, my grandmother had already told me about the period already. And my mother explained what to do when I had my period,” Hazida says.

She adds, “JRS MHM kit helped me a lot in my daily life. And I learnt during the training how to use the sanitary pads and protect myself.”

Kaikai, also aged 14, who benefited from the training, says that some girls in her village cry on their first experience of periods, but MHM training has made them “more comfortable”.

“Some girls in the village cried when they got their period, but after JRS training on MHM, we are more comfortable with it. I didn’t know before that it was possible to go to school during my period,” Kaikai says in the report.

She adds, “School is important to become a doctor or even a minister. Our parents don’t know how to read and write. So, we can read them their (medical) cards.”

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Kaikai says that her parents value education so much that they sometimes sell their animals to cater for school payments. She says that they were delighted when she received MHM kits from JRS.

The schoolgirl who envisions becoming a midwife says, “I want to become a midwife because some women have a lot of problems when giving birth, and I want to be a relief for them. I also want to raise awareness of MHM.”

She recommends improvement of latrines in their school so that girls can use them to change sanitary pads rather than using bushes.

On his part, Mr. Souhadi, a teacher by profession aged 33 who attended the MHM training says that he was compelled to start attending to school children whose periods happen to appear on a school day.

Mr. Souhadi who has been teaching at Malmairi primary school for six years narrates his encounter with a girl who started having her periods while in class.

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“The girl was in the classroom, sitting on the mat. It was the second pause, and we were about to go home. When she stood up her classmates noticed she was stained with blood. Some refused to take the mat where the girl was sitting on,” he says, and adds, she was ashamed, sitting down, and did not want to get up.

Mr. Souhadi explains, “I approached the girl to console her. I told her that she shouldn’t be ashamed; that she was not the only one having the period and won’t be the last one either. That it is natural for all women and girls.”

He says that together with other teachers, they washed the mat and convinced the girl of the need to come to school the following day.

Mr. Souhadi says that the girl kept her promise to come to school and since then has never been absent.

“JRS MHM training was very rich and beneficial for all teachers. We learned to find the correct words to reassure girls on what is happening to them. There are things we don’t know, but we now feel better prepared to support girls during their periods,” Mr. Souhadi says in the January 12 report.

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Founded on 14 November 1980 by Jesuit Fr. Andrew Arrupe, the mission of JRS is “to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future.”