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Train and Empower Adolescent Girls in Mahama Refugee Camp on How to make Reusable Sanitary Pads, and Intensive Health Care Education

The project seeks to provide hands-on training and reproductive health education to young adolescents girls and women in Mahama Refugee Camp

Photo of Everest Luck
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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

A big number of girls in Rwanda, especially those refugee camps do not have access to any form of sanitary protection, obstructing economic and social activities. This does not only affect an individual’s life and career prospects, but the entire community they live in. There is also very little formal support, education or understanding about puberty and sexual health. Fear, superstition, and embarrassment about body changes lead to low self-esteem. Limited access to safe, affordable, convenient and appropriate methods for dealing with menstruation has far reaching implications for a girl's rights and social aspects. Sex can be used as payment for towels and even planned pregnancy in under-aged girls is used to avoid monthly menstruation.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

We are still working on how we intend to expand our services to other stricken refugee camps, apart from Mahama refugee. However, on scale, our impact will be first aimed at Mahama refugee camp, which is most affected and despite its small size and densely populated territory, is hosting 164,561 refugees in total, who are primarily from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, accounting to 50000 Burundian Refugees. We are also currently turning all stones around us to raise funds.

Explain Your Idea

The proposed project seeks to address the perpetual challenge of menstruation management through training young adolescent girls and women in Mahama refugee camp on how to make and using reusable sanitary pads using locally available materials, and providing intensive reproductive health education. A big number of these beneficiaries do not have access to any form of sanitary protection, good form education, economic and social activities. This does not only affect an individual’s life and career prospects, it affects the entire community. By allowing adolescent girls and women to access to formal reproductive health education will prevent early marriage and pregnancies allowing these individuals to advance in their reproductive health education and become successful thus adding a lot to the nation’s GDP. Creating developing opportunities for group that will provided with sewing machines and the knowledge to make and sell sanitary towels and pads. By incorporating families into the educational campaign, parents will see the value in “educating girls,” thereby improving the value of a daughter in a culture that exhibits male-child preferences. The availability of affordable reusable sanitary towels to girls in poverty-stricken areas will enhance the enrolment and retention of girls in school thus having a long-term impact on an individual girl and her community development.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

• Through providing training, this affordable, durable, environmentally sound solution enables girls or women to produce the products within their own homes • These girls and women are more prone to dropping out of school, early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases; therefore, by providing intensive reproductive health education, individuals will learn how to account for their health and life. • Materials will be sourced locally and get labor from the local community thus enabling us provide employment to the community, minimize on costs of production.

How is your idea unique?

Compassion is the most powerful weapon that has ever existed: similar initiatives are sales and profit-focused, which has not helped these poor refugees freeing their home countries, seeking for settlement and peace; individuals who can not afford two meals a day. However much these initiatives produce and distribute their products at a lower cost, the impact is caused to only those who can afford it. Igire Rwanda Organisation, is a non-governmental organisation we formed as youth, university students to help and educate Rwandan youth to be self-reliant and create development opportunities.

Who are your end users?

These project will benefit our target groups ranging from teenage mothers; out-of-school dropouts; female teachers and parents; and secondary girls, regardless of the age. This is because, according to our research, all these groups are poorly stricken by the problem. These will our focus target groups as we spread and expand across other refugee camps. We believe that affordable reproductive health education and menstrual management knowledge should be a basic women's right, and we are out to prove that reality. This initiative intends to reduce gynaecological morbidity, which affects 35-40 % of the world female population. Implementation support will be provided after the training to the beneficiaries.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Rwanda

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Community at risk of disaster

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

According to the UNHCR, at least 500 refugees are seen entering Mahama refugee camp on a daily basis. Lack of effective and eco-friendly menstrual management equipment and skills is anticipated to raise. This will force these individuals to resort to using choice but to use pieces of old foam mattresses, cut blankets, old and unclean T-shirts, leaves, mud, animal skin, toilet papers, and back cloth rags; a culture of shame and embarrassment forces them to keep silent about this practice.

What is your organization's name?

Igire Rwanda Organisation

Tell us more about you.

I am a health care student with a global perspective at Kepler University, Rwanda in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. I have passion for business, technology, especially with a relation in HealthCare Management. I believe that such world's challenges can be transformed into opportunities when invested in the generation. I am also a program manager for Igire Rwanda Organisation (IRO), a youth non-governmental organisation we created to enable youth create development opportunities and become self-reliant. I am based in Kigali Rwanda, where I am currently pursuing my Bachelors Degree in HealthCare Management in global perspective.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Youth-led organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

We are located in Kigali, Rwanda and registered with Rwanda Governance Board (RGD).

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Early Stage Innovation: exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.



Join the conversation:

Photo of Tammi Chen

This reusable pad is a great idea. It makes it affordable to people who can't afford single use pads. Keep it up.

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