“Thanks to Project SNAPS I now know the importance of menstrual health and hygiene.”
As part of its Project SNAPS activities, JRP and Jeevika have worked closely with two local high schools to raise awareness of reproductive health and hygiene, and how sanitary napkins (SNAPS) provide a viable and healthy alternative to traditional methods of dealing with menstruation.
Utkalmani Girls High School in the Khurdha District of Odisha, is one of the two schools where JRP installed a sanitary napkin vending machine to support their need for low-cost, hygienic SNAPS. Prior to the installation of the vending machine, many girls missed at least four days of school each month which amounts to more than one month per year. They fell behind in their studies and sometimes even dropped out of school completely.
“Menstrual cycles begin at the tender age of ten for many girls and keeping them in school is a challenge.” explained the Headmistress. “The napkin vending machine provided by JRP has meant that girls from Tribal and low-income village families can now help themselves to sanitary napkins for Rs5 (£0.05). They can also safely and discreetly dispose of the napkins in the incinerator, also installed by JRP. Since raising awareness of reproductive health, the students now find it easier to ask us for advice on these issues.”
Rubi, who is fourteen, said “I have been using cloth as pads since I was ten. I used to wash them for reuse, but after I heard the trainers speak of reproductive tract infections I switched over to Jeevan Sathi napkins. Now I use them at school and take five home with me from the vending machine during my cycle.”
Rubi’s friend, Reema said “I used to change my cloth once each day but now I know the importance of changing it at least every 5 hours.”
All students at Utkalmani Girls High School now understand the importance of personal hygiene during the menstrual cycle and the use and safe disposal of SNAPS and are committed to continuing to use them. Their teachers are also committed to providing support and advice to their students and the channels of communication have been opened on what was once, for them, a very private issue.
Unfortunately there are many more girls in rural India who do not have access to hygienic sanitary napkins or the means to dispose of them safely and discreetly. So please do help us help more girls in rural India by visiting our donate page to make a simple donation to keep Project SNAPS going.