Mary Nkubu Story

Did you know that a girl misses up to 5 days a month, 15 days a term and 45 days a year due to lack of sanitary towels. Your donation of USD 50 will help to keep a girl in school for 45 days more in a year and improve her learning.

Mary is one of the 10,050 marginalized girls that Jielimishe GEC Project targets to improve their life chances through education. She lives in Ng’onyi village in Imenti North, Meru County with her parents, two brothers and a sister-in-law. The area is a predominantly an agricultural region, which relies on income from cash crops such as coffee, small tea plantations and food crops such as bananas, arrow roots and various vegetables. Despite the rich agricultural setting of the region, most people in are living in abject poverty and cannot adequately afford the basic needs.

Mary’s parents are both peasant farmers whose income is less than Kshs.10,000 (80.64 GBP) a month, which is insufficient to meet the basic family needs, leave alone pay school fees. The family lives in a compound made up of three semi-permanent wooden houses.

Mary says that she repeated class 6 thanks to her monthly menstrual periods that began in 2012. At that time she could neither afford nor access sanitary towels for herself. “I could not concentrate in class; I tied a sweater around my waist to cover my dress. I felt shame and I preferred missing school,” she began her conversation. When asked if she approached her mother during her periods, she replied by saying that she felt shy to do so. During her periods, she would borrow pads from her sister-in-law, who at times did not have sufficient for herself. In such times she opted to spend the whole day in bed, “I would only think of what was happening to me throughout as I lay in bed,” she pointed out further. When asked why she did not want to go to school, she would tell her mother that she feared being taunted by fellow pupils, and she avoided explaining herself further. To keep clean, she would change her clothes often but according to her “when all the clean clothes got soiled, the only solution left for me was to just sit still without having any towel in place,” Academically, Mary’s performance has been consistent throughout: she has always been a top performing student. But the performance dropped drastically when she joined class six for the first time in 2012.

This coincided with the onset of her menstrual periods which led to irregular school attendance coupled with low self-esteem.

Jielimishe GEC Project was a big refuge for girls like Mary. She informed us that since JGEC began the sanitary towels support in her school, she has been receiving sanitary towels. Her life then took a dramatic change for the better.

“I can now concentrate in class, I find no reason to miss classes during my periods, I can stand in front of my classmates and solve a math problem, I have developed a love for soccer, and I can do all of this without thinking of my period when they arrive,” she confidently told us. Mary attends school all through the month, including the days she is on her periods, added her mother. Her confidence has grown and self-esteem boosted.

A promising soccer player, Mary informed us that she just changes into her games kit and squares it out at the field and she enjoys dribbling against her opponents, especially the boys. “I have developed a love for soccer, and I can do all of this without thinking of my periods when they arrive,” she confidently told us

Her mother says that Mary’s self-esteem has been boosted, compared to the days she would spend in bed in low moods. Mary has taken upon herself to give sermons to fellow students and she also engages in peer counselling. She has become a darling to the village’s young children, who often mill around her every time she is around her home. She has also expressed her passion in children’s Christian ministry: she has attended a camp to become a Sunday school teacher.

Mary’s mother testifies that this programme is responsible for this improvement. Provision of the towels, counselling and training offered and constant assurance from her mother transformed Mary from sleeping her periods away, into an active school pupil. In her last test, she scored 333 out of 500, emerging the top in her class. Once ranked 10th, with 271 out of 500, she is now the best student in her class. This affirms Jielimishe GEC’s value on Sanitary Towels as the simple route to keeping girls in school and improving their learning.

Mary’s teacher said, “according to the school registers, majority of the adolescent girls in the school miss between 3-4 days in a month, during which they are experiencing their monthly periods. Before the introduction of Jielimishe GEC project, the school reported irregular attendance and/or absenteeism of up to 102 girls on a monthly basis. But with provision of sanitary towels the school has observed improved attendance as indicated by school registers”.

Mary would like to join Starehe Girls’ Center when she completes her primary school education. She wishes to be a teacher when she grows up so that she can inspire and educate children. She also has a passion for computing and she can’t wait to start learning using the laptops donated to her school by Jielimishe GEC Project.

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