200 MORE Rubies in the Rift!
Life doesn't always go as planned. Likewise projects, despite how much we outline, lesson plan, and budget, can take a turn of their own. Word travels fast in a small town, and because of the overwhelming success of the educational workshops and Ruby Cup distribution at two schools in the Rift Valley, we were approached by another school wishing to participate in Cross World Africa's first public health project.
Perhaps I am overly optimistic about all that I can get done in a day, or maybe I'm just a bleeding heart that wants to say yes to any girl in need, I knew Ruby in the Rift had to incorporate this third school. Doing my due diligence and following up on instinct, I met with the headteacher and deputy principal, who informed me of the harsh economic reality these girls face. Despite the fact that the Kenyan government pledged free pads to all schoolgirls last year, this rural secondary school has yet to see consistent delivery of menstruation materials, leaving these high school girls to purchase their own pads or get creative with whatever they find at home. I appealed to to Ruby Life Ltd (makers of Ruby Cup), the Golden Girls Foundation (our co-distributors), and the board of Cross World Africa, seeking their support to take on another 200 girls into our workshops. The stars aligned, and we were blessed with a green light on all three fronts.
Just because we believe in something doesn't mean it will just happen all by itself. Projects, like life, take work, luck, and- frankly- a little bit of money. Call it divine intervention, or good will of man and womankind, but when I sent out word of adding a new school, sharing the opportunity to change the lives of 200 schools girls, new and old Ruby in the Rift donors showed up. After a rallying cry for gender equity and menstruation rights, the new school was funded in less than 24 hours.
That being said, I pleased to formally announce the third school participating in Cross World Africa's menstrual health project: St. Peter's Iten Secondary School.
200 girls. One field. One hour. Once a week. (There was also one milk cow, but she mooed at all the appropriate moments so we will keep her around). Thank god I have back up. Teresa, a volunteer with Ruby in the Rift, showed up last Saturday to help with the project until the middle of March. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes at least two teachers to tackle menstruation taboos in a field with no educational materials.
Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow (and entertain yourself with puns while blogging). After the warmest introduction from my friend and teacher in training Judith (pictured below), Teresa and I shared a bit about ourselves in Swahili, and set our three intentions for the project: puberty guidance, a sanitation solution, and empowerment. We tested the waters of knowledge to gauge what the students already know about menstruation so we know where to dive in next week. When discussing such a personal subject as periods, we aren't above bribery, and the smiley-faced erasers from America transformed a quiet crowd into one bobbing full of energy and answers.
Taking a hint from the sexual and reproductive health classes I took in middle school and high school in America, Teresa and I decided to end our lessons this week passing around a nalgene where girls could submit anonymous questions to be answered in the next meet-up. I can only remember all too well what it is like to be sixteen and want to know something about "down there" and not knowing who to ask, let alone having the confidence to ask it. As a student, the anonymous drop box allowed me to get answers to what I wanted to know. Now as an instructor, this helps us covers our bases (hah!) and make sure we don't leave anything unanswered.
Needless to say, class next week should be interesting.