Namuddu is 14 years old and in Grade six. Water to Thrive and PaCT constructed a well in her village, and at her primary school, in Mpenja Sub-County in Uganda in 2019. Since receiving clean water and WASH training last year, Namuddu has learned a lot about personal hygiene and health. Now, she is leading the campaign for improved sanitation and hygiene among her peers, as her school’s health club President.
“My name is Namuddu Immaculate. I am 14 years old and I’m in Primary six. I am also the school health club President of my school. I am happy that we have a health club here at school because before PaCT taught us about hygiene, we had problems as girls at school. For example, during my menstruation I used to develop serious headache which usually worried a lot. Surprisingly I used to fear sharing that challenge with my teachers and parents as I thought it was abnormal. I even remember one day I left school and went back home because I was bleeding so much and I thought I was sick. However, when PaCT health workers visited us last year in June 2019, they taught us more about menstruation and personal hygiene. I learnt that it was normal to undergo changes and that we can’t all have the same body challenges.
The other main challenge we usually experienced was lack of safe changing rooms once we went in menstruation periods. Our latrines didn’t have spare rooms for changing in and they were extremely dirty and stinking since there are very few rooms with a large number of children. This forced us to run to the nearby bushes to change sanitary pads, but with time boys got to know about our tricks and unfortunately started laughing at us. This made many of us get shy and some resorted to not changing their sanitary pads, which made them very dirty and uncomfortable. Others decided to stop attending school once they started their periods.
The coming of PaCT led to construction of a shallow well which benefits our school and community. They also built a latrine with a special girls changing room. This, coupled with the education about menstruation at school, made our lives better and we feel much safer than ever before. The education also changed the boys’ attitudes toward us and they are now very understanding and supportive. They view menstruation periods as a normal thing since their sisters go through the same situation.
These days we have enough water and as the President of the health club I teach my fellow pupils how to use pads, how to wash their hands and keep clean. We have even used music, dance and drama as an approach to teach students in our neighboring schools. Last year we performed very well and our parents were very proud of us. My request is that PaCT should also go to other schools and teach the pupils and teachers about the advantages of proper hygiene and sanitation, especially how to use latrines properly.”