Menstrual Hygiene Bank serve more than 100 student at Narayan Jan School after its formation in 2015.
During the earthquake emergency period, the school was facing dificulty to conduct class as they were not able to provide separate toilets for boys and girls. The girls lacked privacy. They were teased by their male friends if they shared about the stomach pain and at times, when the girl’s cloth got blood stain. Priyanka Tamang, former student shared, “We feel shy when we unexpectedly menstruate in the school as boys tease us. And we also do not have any mechanism of purchasing pads to maintain our period flow at the school.”
Menstruating girls were missing out their school days compared to the number of boys, lack of MH facilities being the reason for absenteeism of girls. In response to it, awareness sessions on MHM at the school were organised. The girls were encouraged to accept menstruation as a blessing rather than punishment. They were encouraged to share their challenges with us triggering them to break the silence associated with menstruation.
The girls deeply wanted their mentrual issues- inaccesibility of sanitary pad at the school when they need them the most, availability of appropriate medication during their menstrual cramp during school hours and being teased by their boy friends during their period flow, to be solved.
We then decided to form a “MHM Bank” at the school with a goal to make the school safe menstrual hygiene practicing school. Following steps were undertaken to address the menstrual issues of girls:
- MHM bank establishment for making sanitary pad available
- Availability of medication through MHM bank
- Involving boys in the MHM bank and organising awareness raising activities on MHM
The MHM Bank is lead by the girls under the guidance of their Health, Population and Environment teacher, Ms. Nanu Thapa. The students were asked to maintain a record of sanitary pads exchange for sustainability of the MHM bank. For the exchange of sanitary pad, the student in need of the sanitary pad will be made available by the MHM bank but the pad needs to be replaced by the same student within two weeks.
They now have involved boys as well in their group and are planning to organise a drama to raise awareness on MHM among younger children. Thapa shared, “The absenteism number of girls has reduced significantly in comparision to past years after the introduction of MHM Bank at the school.”
“Involving their male friends has also been ice breaking way to minimize their teasing tendency. They now understand much more about the physical and emotional change the girls goes through,” she further adds.
As a popular quote rightly states “Where there is a will, there is a way”, these girls in Narayan Jan School has been working hard to make their school MHM friendly. They contribute from their pocket money to purchase medicine to be consumed to relieve themselves from the menstrual cramps. They also have been successful to keep sanitary pad disposal dustbin in their toilet and have been encouraging other girls to dispose their pads into the dustbin rather than throwing it away anywhere.