Opening up dialogue in Cameroon
April 28, 2022
Part of our Better Life for Girls project is to constantly promote menstrual hygiene practices. Last month, our Good Neighbors team carried out several activities in Cameroon, during 4 days in the far north region of the country. Members of 14 villages attended training sessions.
From March 13th to 16th, aside from training sessions about reproductive health, puberty, and the menstrual cycle, groups were mentored on how to continue the project in their communities. Sports competitions, games, and skits were also carried out during youth week in Cameroon.
Currently, there are five women’s groups in Mehe, aside from the girls’ club, which has 45 participants aged 13 to 20. So far, four training sessions have been organized and there are two more scheduled to take place in the region.
Better Life for Girls was implemented not only to provide information and meet the demand for low-cost reusable pads, but also to remove barriers to educational, vocational, and social opportunities.
In a final survey with the community, 76.3% of the women had no knowledge about menstruation before their first period. 98.9% used cloths instead of pads (pads were not available to 89.7% of them and were considered not affordable by 92%).
The most surprising thing for the women is to find out that they are allowed to discuss menstruation and have natural conversations with their children about puberty. The fact that people can predict cycles was mind-boggling to them.
Not only do participants receive Dignity Kits with menstrual products, but they have shown increased confidence throughout training sessions, especially in their ability to explain what they have learned to other peers.
Club facilitators will invite women who can share their professional success stories to encourage the girls in Mehe to pursue their dreams. The idea is to make this a yearly event and incorporate training sessions on skills they can use to generate income.
To mobilize resources and continue the program, clubs are encouraged to organize cultural shows and utilize connections with local authorities. Groups are also being encouraged to launch a project that motivates more girls to attend school.
A lot of women mentioned how hard it is to have access to water. In 14 villages, there are only 5 functioning boreholes. Good Neighbors is evaluating how many more they will need, considering there are 10,000 people in the community. The menstruating population is about 2,000 people: 87.7% of them do not have access to enough water for their hygiene needs during their periods.