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Published: July 17th 2019
We spent a total of three weeks in Rugazi with the Ugandan students. We were split into two groups as we were 9 Canadian students and 11 Ugandan students. We were paired up with two medical students from the University of Saskatchewan. In the mornings we spent our time working in the clinic and the afternoons we worked on our community projects. We chose health education of UTIs and menstrual health for our two projects.
Our interventions for the UTI project included health talks in a school with about 150 students present, a health talk in the community and also in the outpatient department. During these talks, we covered common signs and symptoms, causes, prevention, and complications. Every audience was very receptive and were eager to participate and ask questions. The students were very engaged and I was very surprised by how forthcoming they were with asking questions in front of their peers. We quickly realized that the students were very interested in learning more about sexual health. I feel like there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings around sexual health and reproduction. If we had more time, I think further education on sexual health would have been very beneficial.
The other group focused on menstrual health in adolescent girls. Their interventions included working with elementary-aged girls and the community to educated the girls and women that menstruation and sexual health. In the meantime, the boys were split from the group and the male students from our group spent time educating the males about mensuration and how to treat girls and women when they are going through these changes.
After the girls and women were given education about menstrual health the students brought materials purchased in the community of Rugazi and taught the girls how to make their own menstrual pads. A week later our group of students returned and the girls had been working hard on their own pad making from what they had been taught. During this last visit, we also brought AFRIpads to the school and each girl received a package. This was a very fulfilling experience as we had worked so hard in Canada to raise funds to purchase the AFRIpads. The girls were chanting “menstruation is normal and healthy” it was amazing to see how eager and committed they were towards this sustainable project.
With the remainder of the AFRIpads we donated them to the Antenatal ward, postpartum, and labor and delivery wards at the Rugazi Health Center IV. Along with the 315 AFRIpads we also had bras and over 100 pairs of panties to give to the women. They were incredibly excited and pleased with the supplies. THANK YOU to everyone for the generous donations, the AFRIpads was a huge success. My hope is that they continue to make their own pads and share their knowledge with others. It is heartbreaking the number of girls who quit going to school during menstruation. This causes a snowball effect, as they get behind in school they cannot catch up and they eventually stop going. They are often married off very young and then end up having children in their adolescent years. To prevent this from happening girls NEED to stay in school and one of the best ways we can encourage them to do so is to provide them with sustainable supplies they can use during menstruation.
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