By Juanita Nonwo – EM TV Online
Many young school girls in less-developed countries face the problem of skipping school for days and weeks every month due to a lack of sanitary products during their menstruation period.
For some, it is culture that becomes a barrier that disrupts their education, as they are called “unclean” to be in the classroom, and get bullied or teased by other peers.
In a study carried out in Uganda, 61.6 per cent of girls miss up to eight days of school during their menstruation period. If eight days doesn’t seem long, calculate eight days by approximately 11 months of schooling, and that’s 88 days of missed classes in just one year.
Papua New Guinea is no exception, in that young females in rural areas also face a very similar problem.
In a joint effort, a charity group called Sewing for Charity from Mackay, Australia, has volunteered to use sewing as a means to help those unfortunate girls by sewing up re-usable sanitary pads.
This newly formed sewing project will be aimed at helping a boarding school in Papua New Guinea and bring confidence to these school girls.
Once a month, the group meets in the hope of benefiting local and international communities.
Sewing for Charity Volunteer Coordinator, Julene Cutting, is among six other women in Mackay sewing sanitary items for schools girls in Papua New Guinea, after hearing from a friend about how some girls do not have access to these types of products.
Julene Cutting is the Sewing for Charity Australia volunteer co-ordinator in Mackay (Sophie Kesteven )
“I thought, well, we can do something about it’so let’s do it, I wanted to do something for somebody else but also do something that I liked to do and make friends and have fun doing something together,” Julene said.
“Being that it’s not Australia, they do have cultural differences and we’re not to have fabrics with animals or people, so we respect that. They get a kit that has a washer in it, a cake of soap and a plastic bag so they can wash these items,” she added.
Doing something she loves, Julene said “It’s just something simple that we can sit down and sew today, because they don’t have the tools to do it, and provide them with a continuing education.”
Another volunteer, Annette Bristow-Stagg, said she wanted to help support young women who did not have access to these kinds of products.
“It makes them feel more comfortable in their environment; it’s a [co-ed] school so not having any little mishaps is always a good thing,” she said.
Annette Bristow-Stagg said she has been sewing since she was knee-high to a grasshopper (Sophie Kesteven )
The group aims to make 450 pads; including some made in Brisbane by another group.
Recently, Cutting and her volunteers made caps for cancer patients and are hoping to make scarves for children living in domestic violence shelters to give to their mothers on Mother’s Day.