All Girls, Different Worries, Worlds Apart.

I am what I would consider “normal.” I went to school then onto college and I am now in my second year of full time hair dressing. I had everything I needed to complete my education and I am now doing my dream job, I love being a hairdresser. On my trip to Kenya this year I discovered us girls are all the same; we all worry at school - just some of us have bigger worries than others. Looking back my worries make me look self obsessed! Were my clothes ok, did I have just the right amount of makeup on so I wouldn’t be handed a baby wipe by my form teacher and told to wipe it off, had I done my homework? But most important of all was my hair looking perfect, it must have been the hair dresser in me!

I guess I’d better tell you why I was in Kenya. I am aged 20 and my mum asked me to travel out with her - she goes out to Kisumu in Kenya as she is a trustee with the Sage in Kenya charity. Whilst I was in Kenya I got to meet girls that had been through the SAGE programme and were now almost finishing Secondary School, these girls have hopes and dreams just like I did at that age, Caroline wants to be a lawyer and Sharon wants to become an accountant, they both said how much Sage in Kenya had helped them and set them free to just worry about their studies. I also met a single dad of two whose wife had died when both children were small and a mother with four children. They both had girls that have benefited from Sage in Kenya and both said how blessed they were and how Sage in Kenya had lifted a burden from them.

The Father went on to say that he was on a low income and had to choose between food or sanitary towels for his daughter, the answer was a simple one for him - they had to eat; his daughter could stay home for 3-4 days whilst she was on her period. I visited 6 of the schools that Sage in Kenya helps and supports and met many of the girls that benefit from the programme. I was stunned when I heard their stories of how they coped with their periods before Sage in Kenya came along and I thought I had big worries at their age! My worries were superficial .

Can you imagine telling your parent that you have just started your period and they just can’t afford to help you with proper protection. It’s not that they don’t want to help but they just don’t have the money to spare for such “luxuries” that I take for granted. So the choices for the girls when they have their periods are not good. One option is to use bits of old cloths, another to cut a slice of mattress to put between your legs. Either option is not great and all they often do is sit at home and miss 3-4 days of school a month.

Can you imagine walking several miles to school with a piece of mattress between your legs? To be honest I’d want to stay home too. Then they have to worry about staining their clothes because let’s face it rags and mattress just don’t work like sanitary towels do, the blood soaks through within an hour or two. So the girls that have decided to try and go to school sit and worry that they are going to leak and just can’t concentrate on the lesson; then they worry if they do “leak” the boys will tease them and games are completely out of the question when they have their period. Sage in Kenya comes along and to them it’s a God sent gift, all their “period pains” are gone.

They are in school every day, not missing lessons and not worrying that they will stain their clothes. They can run around and play with their friends they are free to be normal just like me and you. One school that we visited, Tatro Primary, for the first time ever had 100% of the girls sit their end of year school exams just because Sage in Kenya was there working with the girls. Can you imagine missing your exams that you have studied all year for just because it’s the wrong time of the month? You have to repeat the year or drop out of school with no hope of going onto further education - what heartache that causes because they know that education is the way out of poverty.