The State of Menstrual Hygiene in Kenya — Pt. 1

Do It Now

“Do it now!”, my grade six English teacher restated. Resoundingly.

It was a week before the mid-term examinations, and my whole block was busy, preparing. Examining, analysing, exploring the English grammar, long-form set books and composition writing. Having just been from a 3- hour long math class, I was in the dining hall working on my cursive.

See, I have poor handwriting. Indiscernible. All exams are done by penmanship. I fight with my pen. Sometimes, my ideas run faster than the speed of my pen. Thank you, Chris.

Mr. Kariuki tells me to repeat my essay as my writing was still vaguely obscure. I wanted to procrastinate repeating my former task. I needed to get on to the set books. The Kenyan high school education is Falstaffian!

Mr. Kariuki tells me to repeat the essay.

And do it now.

Recently, I have gotten into a routine of work that gets me to do things now. Just as any other human being, I get an average of 58 ideas in a day. Yes, the statistics are true. One of the things I have been doing for the past 2 months is going to Tunza Children’s Home. As part of my club community service, I am required to help out at a local CBO of my choice for 3 months. The timely requirement is 6 hours per week.

Now, community service is a nice thing to do. But to do an internship, write a thesis, run a business and still make your 6PW is no mean fete. Giving time and skill to local CBOs maintains capacity-building in our communities.

At Tunza, I have learnt many things. For example, I have learnt how to be patient with the system. I learnt that there will always be needy people and people with excess. I also learnt that consistency has everything to do about everything.

Among many other things, I learnt that some girls would stay at the home during the school term. The school-going children at Tunza attend nearby day primary and secondary schools. When all kids go to school, it is noticeable if any of them is left at the Home.

These girls stuck out like thumbs. Out of place.

I asked them why they were not in school.

“Pads.”, a soft-spoken Stella said.

Now, all women are expected to carry sanitary essentials in their bag. Not only for lone individual use, but for their fellow partner-in-grime. I gave Stella a pack of handy essentials.

I see Stella after some few minutes and there she was, off to school.

Getting home later that evening, I became cognisant of what happened with Stella during the day. All through high school, I was fortunate to have essential sanitary products, such as tampons and pads at arms length. The school nurse Anne always had a pack on tap in case any student did not have them close. The fact that Stella missed class because pads and tampons were in the back of beyond was perturbing!

Therefore, I called my good friend, Chepkemoi. I invited her over to a feast my cousins had prepared upcountry, in Kirinyaga. On the way, we sought a spiritual adventure. Yes, that’s what we called it. After three days, we came back to Nairobi.

MremboSafi’s Co-founders: Wachera Njagi (l) and Chepkemoi Koskei (r)

Inspired. Motivated. Rattled.

After jotting down our ideas, we came up with MremboSafi. MremboSafi provides sustainable menstrual sanitation solutions for Africa.

MremboSafi is Swahili for ‘Clean beauty’.

MremboSafi’s first action will be to provide the 55 girls at Tunza Children’s Home with 550 I-Care Sanitary Kits by 1st July 2015. With the help of our friends and family, we have raised Ksh. 14,000 — a quarter of our goal of Ksh. 49,500.

The I-Care Sanitary Kit

The following are the reasons why we chose I-Care Sanitary kits for our first beneficiaries at Tunza:

  • They are environmentally friendly and locally sourced
  • They are 100% cotton made and made for comfort
  • They are an alternative, affordable sanitary pad.

Girl Uninterrupted

There is an immediate need at Tunza right now. The fact that school-going girls have the chance to stay in school uninterrupted can be made possible by you and I. By guaranteeing every girl 3 I-Care sanitary kits for the next year, this gives MremboSafi the chance to find long-term sustainable solutions to the plight of menstrual hygiene management at the school.

Essential sanitary products are directly complemented by the following:

  1. A sustainable supply of water
  2. A clean dignifying toilet
  3. Soap
  4. Toilet Paper

MremboSafi has its eyes set on improving the state of menstrual hygiene in Kenya by soliciting for the abovementioned necessities. All this starts with one easy step, acquiring sustainable sanitary resources. Chepkemoi and I are certain that all drastic resonant societal change started with one simple initiatory Call-To-Action. A ‘Do-It-Now’. What is MremboSafi’s inaugural CTA? MremboSafi’s ‘Do-It-Now’ is to:

Provide young disadvantaged girls at Tunza Children’s Home with sustainable durable sanitary kits.

The revolutionary Donna Brazile once said:

“Why you?
Because no one is better.
Why now?
Because tomorrow isn’t soon enough”.

The best way to inflict immediate active positive change in our society is by learning what gap exists, evaluating how best to fill that gap — and simply getting things done! With the help of our family and friends, we reached our first week goal, and with your help, we can reach this week’s goal.

We are very excited to know that we can indeed achieve this goal. With a donation of $3 >, you have the capacity to afford young, brilliant but disadvantaged young girls with I-Care sanitary kits. And you know what? That’s just the beginning! The plan is substantial and the implementation is on-the-go.

We live in such a reactive time. Dutch robots are set to build a bridge over an Amsterdam canal. The Automatic Parked Car Finder is here to solve our middle-class problems.

“It is our responsibility to be responsible”, said Brian Njonjo, a brilliant part of MremboSafi’s friends and supporters, #WareshandtheGents.

We have the capacity and acumen to find a sustainable long-term solution to improve the state of menstrual hygiene in Kenya, Africa and the world. All this by following one simple instruction:

Do It Now.

A three-part series on the State of Menstrual Hygiene in Kenya by MremboSafi’s Co-founder, Wachera Njagi.