Introducing Dorena Pads (www.dorenapads.com)
This is a sub project under the Cho Ngafor Foundation.
The Dorena Eco-friendly pads Initiative Project provides access to reproductive health information and sustainable clean and safe options for menstrual hygiene management. The project aims to empower vulnerable groups – such as rural women and girls who have dropped out of school or girls who cannot afford proper hygienic products during menstruation. Through teaching them how to sew reusable sanitary pads and providing opportunities to break this vicious cycle, and with our community health enterprises, we can promote gender equally and reduce poverty among women and girls.
Working in the hard to reach communities of North and south West Regions of Cameroon. I witnessed girls using dirty rags, leaves of trees, unhealth compromising materials, papers and other harmful materials during menstruation. After doing a walk and talk search around the neighboring communities in that area and beyond, I realized that most girls are home and prison due to lack access to feminine hygiene products to safely manage their periods. Some girls from the Fulani’s and Mboro’s cultures told me they are left with the option of sitting on the floor during the menstruation allowing their cloths to soak the menstrual discharge. Other share their stories of using leaves to insert ito the Vigina during their periods. Other use cow dung, rags and unhygienic materials.
After concluding a discussion with female members, the chonfoundation and other rural groups in these community one woman continued to sit still. It was then revealed that she is menstruating and was not wearing a pad to manage her period and that feminist hygiene materials are not available or are very expensive and the family cannot afford. A similar situation happened in Mbengwi while chofoundation was carrying our some informal educational activities with children in Mbengwi in 2017. Two girls could not take part in the activities due to menstruation. One other girl who was playing out with other children on the field had the break through of Menarcy. While running around she noticed blood flow. she thought she was injured. Little did she know it was her period that has just began.
In Cameroon, menstruation is a highly taboo topic that is not publicly discussed. This is as a result of a culture of silence and shame surrounding menstruation which, is depriving the vulnerable rural female, remanded adolescent girls, school dropouts and girls living in hard to reach communities of their fundamental rights to dignity, safety and respect.
The Chongafoundation conducted a number of baseline studies describing the sanitation conditions between 2017 to 2018 in the above mentioned Regions and it is basing on these to
derived this proposal. Out of 260 young girls, 35 had a knowledge on menstruation before the on set, 140 Girls menstruating got into it without a pre knowledge. 43 were mothers between childbearing age and Monopose who expressed a lot of uncertainty about menstruation and management plus hygiene, 23 were of were not menstruating 8 were men, and the rest were the educational Team. The survey was carried out without prior consideration to religions backgrounds, cultures, level of education, or ethnic group. This survey was mainly done through questions and answers, short group plays, group discussions and interviews. The result of the data we collected helped us to inform and raise the awareness of local leaders concerned with MHM, as well as increase our programs in 2019. Our result showed lack of basic knowledge about MHM, lack of sanitary facilities, no privacy for girls to change, lack of water, cultural taboos, stigma and believes, shame and rejection from family members during menstruation, worse of all lack of clean and affordable material to manage their menstruation. We faced some difficulties like organizing groups due to distrust, in the communities like in the school. Religion and family background was a hindernisse.
The lack of menstrual hygiene materials negatively impacts women’s mental, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing whilst also hindering societal and economic development. Women and girls who lack access to these fundamental rights are predisposed to teenage pregnancy, poor school attendance and high dropout rates. This lack of access also undermines women’s rights as many also face the risk of gender-based violence and exploitation or forced into some sexual activities in exchange for money to buy affordable and safe menstrual hygiene materials to ensure proper management of their periods
The Dorena Initiative Eco-friendly pad production project is working to raise awareness and advocate against negative attitudes and period taboos. An increase in menstrual and sexual reproductive health education is key in reducing existing inequalities.
We are currently working on reusable sanitary and postpartum pads. The reusable sanitary products provide the opportunity to improve menstrual, sexual and reproduction health.
At the Foundation, we advocate against any restriction that violates women’s rights and work towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and give back 180 school days to school girls. The reusable sanitary and postpartum pads are a sustainable solution for safe menstrual hygiene practice and postpartum care and provides more economic opportunities. Our work gives women uninterrupted productive work hours and the ability to unleash their full potential for the development of their homes, communities and overall futures.
The reusable sanitary pad is safe for incontinent care. Our menstrual and sexual reproductive health education also empowers the pre-menarche to defer child marriage. The reusable sanitary pads do not cause environment pollution and are not detrimental to women health.
We seek partnership to scale-up the production to improve coverage among vulnerable women, remand homes and girls who have dropped-out of school.
They thus adopted a two-fold mission for the foundation- to educate, sensitized and provide health related assistance to the underprivileged.
How to support communities
Developing Dorena Washable Sanitary Pads and Raising MHM on awareness in Cameroon
In Cameroon Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is one of the most cirtial challenges adolescent girls face.
Poor MHM in most in rural communities has been show to cause adolescent girls to worry and suffer humiliation, monthly absenteeism from daily life activities between 3 to 7 days. Menstruation is seen as a toboo by many communities, majority of families in rural Cameroon are too poor to buy sanitary pads or underwear. Most girls lack hygiene material to use during menstruation and so resolve to using rags, leaves of trees, cow dung, for menstruation. The also lack information on the process of menstruation and proper requirement for managing menstruation. Likewise poor health protection, lack of privacy and inadequate water and sanitation facilities to keep themselves clean could lead to high risk of infection.
Activities so far: Distribution and teaching women, girls, boys, men how to produce DPads (Dorena Washable Pad initiative)