For many school-going girls, menstrual hygiene is still a challenge. From dropping out of school, missing classes to being bullied for going into periods, DORA NANZIRI, the proprietor of Yuppie, an events and entertainment company for children, talked to Yudaya Nangonzi about her plans to support girls in Kiboga district.
Who is Dora Nanziri?
For starters, I am a mother of two, a teacher, who loves nurturing children.
What inspired you to set up a company centered on children activities?
I started Yuppie in 2004 because of my love for children. When I got [a son], I decided to organise for him a baptism party. Guests that I had invited talked about the party for at least two weeks but I was not sure whether my son, who was just months old, had fun at his own function.
I did a few Google searches and designed questionnaires for people to fill on how to organise extra-ordinary parties for children. Before I knew it, I had all the necessary data and that is how Yuppie started. For the name, I thought of putting together my parents’ name but I realised the combination was not appealing.
I looked around for any expression of excitement and chose Yahoo, though it sounded like the one on internet. The next day, I said to myself, Yuppie, designed my own logo and the rest is history.
Of the over 100 districts in the country, why zero on helping girls in Kiboga?
Well, I have always wanted to reach out to children. But as for Kiboga, I was touched by a story aired on NTV on July 24, 2016. Generally, the story was about girls of Bright secondary school, Kiboga, who had collected their pocket money for some time and bought sanitary pads for other girls [in the neighbouring] Kalokola primary school.
In one of the interviews, the young girls explained the trauma they go through during menstruation. One girl ended her story with a very sad tone, which has since stuck in my head. “N’enswaala”, she said, loosely meaning she was embarrassed when she had her periods for the very first time while at school. The testimonies were so touching and I made a personal pledge to reach out to these young girls.
How widespread is the menstruation challenge in this district?
It was reported that the dropout and absence rate for girls was so high due to challenges that came with menstruation like lack of changing rooms, sanitary pads and bullying by other students, after one stains her uniform. The expression on the faces of the girls showed the pain they go through after being caught unaware.
I doubt if they are prepared enough for what to expect at a certain [stage of] body change. Of late, I have found out more horrible stories. Some of the girls prefer to stay at home during their monthly period, as opposed to school because they don’t have appropriate sanitary wear.
Girls use dry banana fibres, handkerchiefs, cloths and some local leaves that are also used as toilet paper in the rural communities. This has left me with no option but push for at least a sanitary pad for the girls.
Do you have enough funds to procure sanitary pads for all primary schoolgirls?
I am organising a fundraising event dubbed The Christmas sound of music children’s festival and all proceeds will go towards purchasing sanitary towels for the underprivileged girls in Kiboga in order to keep them in school. The festival will take place on December 10 from 11am to 6pm at Greenhill Academy sports ground, Kibuli campus.
Entry fee for children between two and 13 years is Shs 25,000 and adults Shs 5,000. I’m hoping that we shall be able to get the numbers at this family-fun day as we want to donate the pads at the start of term-one 2018. We shall be celebrating as we give back to the young girls in Kiboga.
How many girls are expected to benefit from this event and in which schools?
On average, we are looking at 700 girls in total, but [hope to] donate pads to at least 120 girls per school. We intend to give out four packets to each girl to stay in school because we have no control over their time at home. In addition to the pads, we shall orient them about menstruation as well as give underwear to the girls.
[Some] cannot afford to buy sanitary towels, it is possible that they go to school without underwear. Schools that will benefit from the fundraiser include Kalokola primary school, Bukomero C/U primary school, Kiduzi Primary school, Bukomero Kikuubo primary school, Bukomero RC primary school and Katikala primary school.
Is this initiative a one-off event?
For now, I’m hurriedly responding to Kiboga. But I am hoping that I can reach out to more girls [across the country] in case I get the funds.
For districts like Kitgum, parents encourage girls to sit on sand to prevent the heavy flows because they cannot afford the pads. Hopefully, Kitgum might be my next destination.