Friday, 22 June 2012

Namilyango College School Haven Seminar.

USAFI got a chance to go with the Haven Anti-AIDS foundation to Namilyango College a fortnight ago. It was a very productive visit. We got over 50 volunteers from Namilyango College,Gayaza High School and Rubaga Girls.

They were pleased to hear about our cause and many actually confessed to knowing and having friends who'd  missed out on school because they had no sanitary towels; and those who'd got pregnant because they were ignorant about sex.


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Affordable menstrual pads keep girls in school, create jobs

Uganda's Makerere University technologists invent papyrus-based sanitary protection

A project that is making affordable sanitary pads from locally available materials is keeping young girls from poor families in school all month long as well as generating local employment for many women, men and girls in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. The Makapads, which sell much more cheaply than imported sanitary pads used by better-off women and girls during menstruation, were developed by Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi of Makerere University’s Faculty of Technology in 2003-4, with funding support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Research done in 2002 showed that many girls did not attend school when they were menstruating because they could not afford to buy commercially-made sanitary pads and 90% of the urban poor were improvising with unhealthy materials such as banana fibers, grass, leaves, old newspapers, and pieces of cloth that did not provide reliable protection. Dr. Musaazi, a specialist in appropriate technology and a senior lecturer in Makerere University's department of electrical engineering, set out to make simple, safe, affordable sanitary pads that would keep girls in school. Earlier he had designed an incinerator that burns sanitary pads and other solid waste.
The sanitary pads (trademarked Makapads) are the first to be made from 99% local materials with the main raw material being papyrus reeds, cut from the vast, abundant swamps and riverbanks all over Uganda. After the papyrus is cut, the green cover is peeled off and the white stem is crushed using a rubber hammer. The material is then dried under the sun and sent for paper processing. Dried papyrus is mixed with water and waste paper or paper cut-offs from printing presses. The mixture of pounded paper and crushed papyrus is put in a rectangular box with a sheave for drying. After the mixture has dried, it is then taken for softening and smoothening in a softening machine. All tools used in the process are locally made or fabricated.
The softened material is then trimmed into pads of 5 cm by 20 cm using a paper cutter and sealed into non-woven packing materials, bought from shops around town. The pads are sealed in packs of three and exposed to ultraviolet light to kill off any bacteria. The pads, three to eight times more absorbent than any on the market, have been approved by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards.
Apart from producing safe and cheap sanitary pads, other project achievements include development of simple cottage machines which are locally manufactured and that use more than 95% local materials. It has so far provided employment and skills development opportunities to women, girls and men, working at different Makapads sub-processes.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

No Pads, No School: Girls' Education Going Down the Toilet

It is a widespread but unacknowledged problem that girls in Africa miss school and stay at home because of menstruation. According to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out completely due to their period, and substitute pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark.

There are many aspects that link girls' attendance rates to their menstrual cycles. Firstly, the lack of affordable sanitary products and facilities for girls and women keeps them at a disadvantage in terms of education when they are young and prevents their mobility and productivity as women. Secondly, the lack of clean and healthy sanitation such as toilets and running water means that girls often do not have anywhere to change or dispose of pads safely and in privacy at school. Thirdly, the taboo nature of menstruation prevents girls and their communities from talking about and addressing the problem; raising awareness and education to eliminate the stigma of menstruation is a large part of the battle.

Dropping out

UNICEF reports that “in countries where menstrual hygiene is taboo, girls in puberty are typically absent for 20% of the school year”. Most girls drop out at around 11 to 12-years-old, and miss school not simply because they fear being teased by their classmates if they show stains from their period, but also because they are not educated about their periods, and their need for safe and clean facilities is not prioritized. The idea that monthly bleeding is something shameful, polluting, or taboo may also encourage girls to avoid social contact during their period. Additionally, the cultural implications of menstruation as a stage in a woman’s development may be used to take girls out of school – the idea being that if a girl is ready for motherhood, then she is ready for marriage.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

In Africa, Menstruation Can Be a Curse

I thought i would share this article i found(its so true) you can tell me what you think.

By Masimba Biriwasha, RH Reality Check, Africa & Asia,March 25, 2008 - 9:50am

The natural process of menstruation comes as a big problem to women and girls in many parts of Africa, contributing to both disempowerment and health risks. For young girls, menstruation is an addition to the heap of gender disparities they have to face in life.

In order to stem the flow of monthly periods, the women and girls use anything from rags, tree leaves, old clothes, toilet paper, newspapers, cotton wool, cloths or literally anything that can do the job. Most girls from poor, rural communities do not use anything at all.

Menstruation is perhaps one of the most regular individual female experiences, but in sub-Saharan Africa, the experience impacts general society negatively due to the absence of products required by women and girls to cope with menstrual flow.

To state it bluntly, menstruation has become like a curse not only to the women and girls but to society in general on the continent. Because menstruation is largely a private act, the social damage is hidden and never makes the news headlines. Also, there are cultural and social attitudes that render discussion of menstruation almost impossible.

Affordable and hygienic sanitary protection is not available to many women and girls in Africa, and governments have done very little to address this reproductive health issue which has serious public health consequences.

In sub-Saharan Africa, millions of girls, in particular, that reach the age of puberty are highly disempowered due to the lack of access to sanitary wear. Many of the girls from poor families cannot afford to buy sanitary pads.

Hence they resort to the use of unhygienic rags and cloths which puts them at the risk of infections. Some of the girls engage in transactional sex so that they can raise the money required to buy sanitary pads, putting themselves at the risk of HIV and STI infection.

Alternatively, young girls are forced to skip school during the time they experience monthly periods to avoid both the cost of pads or use of cloths.

"Less-privileged girls and women who represent substantial percentage in our contemporary Africa will continue to suffer resulting to school absenteeism and also compromising their right to health care," says Fredrick W. Njuguna, Program Director of Familia Human Care Trust in Kenya.

A girl absent from school due to menstruation for four days in 28 days (a month) loses 13 learning days, equivalent to two weeks of learning, in every school term.

It is estimated that within the four years of high school the same girl loses 156 learning days equivalent to almost 24 weeks out of 144 weeks of learning in high school.

Consequently, a girl child potentially becomes a "school drop out" while she is still attending school. In addition, the girl child has to deal with emotional and psychological tension associated with the menstrual process.

To make matters worse, according to Familia Human Care Trust, many schools in underprivileged areas lack sufficient sanitation facilities which are vital not only during a girl's period but at all times generally such as water, adequate toilet facilities and appropriate dumping facilities for sanitary wear.

As a result, menstruating girls opt to stay at home due to lack of facilities to help them manage their periods than go to school.

For orphaned girls, the prospect of coping with bodily changes can be a significant challenge because they have no one to turn to for information or advice. In addition, due to the use of improper methods to contain their menstrual flow, young girls may develop bodily odors that will lead to social exclusion within peer groups thereby impacting negatively on the young girl's confidence.

The need for affordable sanitary wear for women and girls in Africa is indeed a major public health issue that governments need to prioritize in their planning.

On the other hand, there is need for social innovation around this issue because the need for sanitary wear among girls and women will forever be there, at least in the long term future.

The bottom line is that no girl child must be disadvantaged by the natural process of menstruation, and governments, civil society organizations and other players need to work together to ensure that the appropriate services are made available.

As it is, menstruation has becomes the undeclared basis for the social exclusion of young girls. Sanitary protection is an urgent need among women and girls and needs to be made affordable so that poor and marginalized groups can have access.

Global alliances between women in the rich and poor worlds can be a key solution to the problem of access to sanitary wear. But governments also need to recognize that ensuring women and girl's access to sanitary wear has positive public health implications.

Access to affordable sanitary care is human right but one that is never discussed in our male dominated world. Whatever the case, the fact remains: every woman should be able to have access to the right products which can enable them to happily experience menstruation.

No woman/girl  should be cursed do disempowerment by the natural act of monthly periods.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Help keep a girl in school

Donate a Maka Pad to keep these beautiful girls in school, healthy with a happy and a confident life.its just 2400 shs.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

about Usafi Girls Campaign

(Right to a Healthy Sanitary Life)

Introduction and Background

Globally, 150 million children currently enrolled in school may drop out before completing primary education and at least 100 million of these are girls. Menstruation for girls without access to sanitary towels/pads and underpants is a major contributor to girls dropping out of school. UNICEF estimated that 1 in 10 menstruating African school girls skip four (4) or five (5) days per month or drop out completely.

Educational opportunities in Uganda have grown considerably since 2000, for example, there have been marked increase in enrollment from primary school to the tertiary level. These increases have followed initiatives at international levels in setting up instruments to ensure equitable education. The government of Uganda has provided “Free” primary and secondary education for all. However, statistics show that less than 38% of girls entering primary one (1) will complete their primary education and the numbers will still drop during the early years of secondary education. Many obstacles stand in the way of successful education for the rural girls among them are issues relating to puberty, teen pregnancy and early marriage.

Usafi Girls Campaign is a young girls and women advocacy initiative, implemented by Haven Anti-AIDS Foundation a charitable, indigenous, not-for-profit Children and Youth development organization, registered with a mandate of involving and empowering children and youth to fight against HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, alleviate poverty through the use of their talents to improve their livelihoods, realize their potential and discover their worth through participatory and advocacy activities, with the goal of empowering and advocating for easy access to sanitary towels/pads to school girls so as to improve their health and education in Uganda. A survey of menstruating girls in rural Uganda found out that the biggest number of school dropouts are girls because of inconveniences during the menstrual periods. These absenteeism leads to poor academic performances and subsequent dropping out of school. Academic performance correlates closely with school attendance, and absenteeism, and drop out rates are high for rural Ugandan girls for reasons often linked to their reproductive biology. Menstruation, early pregnancy, STI and HIV interfere with their success at school. Educating girls is widely regarded as one of the best ways to improve the economy and health of developing countries. The lack of education and financial inequalities between men and women mean that women often lack the power to control their reproductive health.

Statement of the Problem

Despite the fact that theirs free universal primary education in Uganda, many rural and semi-rural girls drop out of school at puberty stages due to lack of sanitary towels/pads. Only 38% of Uganda girls will complete primary school and only 13% will attend secondary education. This campaign will increase access to education and improve health for poor rural girls in Uganda through peer education programs, improved sanitary hygiene and the self-sustainable production of locally produced, ecologically friendly sanitary towels/pads. (MakaPads)


To live in a society with equal opportunities and equal access to resources


To improve and facilitate efforts towards the promotion and protection of education, sanitary health and wellbeing of girls and women

Main Goal

To advocate for girls and women accessibility, affordability, availability and acceptability of sanitary towels/pads to improve their health and education in schools and communities of Uganda


  • To advocate for girls and women’s rights as a way of accessing sanitary towels/pads to better their health and education in Uganda.
  • To provide skills to girls and women on how to make their own sanitary towels/pads for self-sustenance
  • To support preventive programmes that promote girls and women sanitary health
  • To empower marginalized and vulnerable female groups in communities to realize their potential and gender responsive development

Brief description of the campaign and Activities

The campaign is national wide with the aim of providing support and creating awareness for improved health and education of girls and women through sanitary towel/pads provision and production. It is expected to run for a period of 5 years in which we expect to achieve our designated goals and objectives. Through its implementation, the following activities are to be enforced;

  • Training girls and women in the production of sanitary towels/pads with the help of MakaPads technology
  • Workshops
  • Distribution of sanitary towels/pads to girls and women most especially vulnerable and disabled
  • Lobbying and advocacy
  • Information dissemination and sensitization
  • Voluntary counseling in matters relating to menstruation periods
  • Capacity building and mentoring
  • Platforms for girls and women to raise their issues


The campaign aims at reaching out to young girls aged 9 – 14 years from primary four (4) to primary seven (7), then senior one (1) to senior six (6) students, that is, 14 – 24 years and University and out of girls and women, that is, 25 – 45 years. It also targets communities of vulnerable and disabled girls who already dropped out of school due to the lack of funds to purchase sanitary towels/pads. It also extends to university students and out of school girls and women.


The major operational areas of the campaign are Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja, Mukono, Buikwe, Kamuli, Iganga, Mayuge, Mbale, Tororo, Busia, Kumi, Soroti, Pallisa, Lira, Pader, Kitgum, Kotido, Arua, Abim, Nebbi, Gulu, Kitgum, Fortportal, Mubende, Mityana, Kibaale, Mbarara, Masaka, Mpigi, Rakai, among other districts of Uganda and it is expected to move across the whole country.

The strategic and campaigning process

Usafi Girls campaign is implemented by Haven Anti-AIDS Foundation a charitable, indigenous, not-for-profit Children and Youth development organization, registered with a mandate of involving and empowering children and youth to fight against HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, alleviate poverty through the use of their talents to improve their livelihoods, realize their potential and discover their worth through participatory and advocacy activities, in which its activities and programmes are to be initiated into the organization’s work plans. The campaign is to last for a period of five (5) years (2012 - 2017) in which it’s going to accomplish all its goals and objectives. Its immediate implementing partners, that is, Technology 4 Tomorrow the sole producers and manufacturers of MakaPads will the suppliers of these materials and will also be in charge of training girls and women. They will also initiate the construction of incinerators to different schools with training of how to use them. Other projects like Kasiisi project, Kyaka II project, Hope North Uganda among others of these who have done something similar will be brought on board so as to ease the campaigning process.

By the end of 2017, the campaign will have been able to establish swampy areas where papyrus plants can easily be accessed and grown. Each region will have an established mini factory for manufacturing of sanitary towels (MakaPads) and these will employ girls and women and will get different types of skills for making MakaPads. Schools, community leaders and parents will receive counseling and guidance skills and trainings on how to keep the environment clean to avoid infections. Changing rooms for school going girls will be established in different mixed and girls schools and also a proposal of introducing a USAFI day with different activities like cleaning of the changing rooms and other sports activities. Girls and women will receive trainings in menstrual hygiene and free sanitary towels and pants will be provided to those vulnerable and disabled. This will increase attendance of girls in schools during menses, participation in class and physical activities, enhance personal grooming and building self confidence.

Other Strategies

  • Lobbying for government representatives and policy makers
  • Workshops for menstrual hygiene
  • House – to – House/community outreaches
  • Primary and Secondary schools outreaches
  • Dialogues with local health practitioners and workers
  • Training in sanitary towels/pads making

Benefits of the campaign to girls and women

  • Provision of cheap and free supply of sanitary towels/pads
  • Increased attendance of school going girls during menses
  • Improvement in health from using hygienic products
  • Employment opportunities
  • Improved self confidence
  • Enhanced personal grooming
  • More frequent participation in class and physical activities
  • Improved environment for girls in menses by building changing rooms
  • Vocational training in the manufacture of sanitary towels/pads
  • Information on menstrual hygiene

Immediate partners

  • Kyaka II Project (Refugees)
  • Makapads (Technologies 4 Tomorrow)
  • Hope North Uganda
  • Kasiisi Project (girls support program)