Appeal voices young women’s distress

2018-02-28 06:01
Presenting sanitary towels to Tasha Abrahams at the Petrusville High School on Thursday, 15 February, is Refilwe Mmolaeng, Napwa field worker. Photo: Supplied

Presenting sanitary towels to Tasha Abrahams at the Petrusville High School on Thursday, 15 February, is Refilwe Mmolaeng, Napwa field worker. Photo: Supplied

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The Northern Cape government has once more been challenged by the National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS (Napwa) with regards to the distribution of sanitary towels to disadvantaged communities in the deepest rural areas.

It remains a question to Napwa why there are continued efforts to strengthen campaigns on the distribution of male condoms at public places, while little is being done for girls and women.

According to Napwa, the lack of sanitary towels persists among the poor, while close to 200 million free condoms are annually distributed, and still HIV and AIDS persists.

“Very little is being said about the girl child, who misses school close to five days a month due to the lack of sanitary towels, sometimes resulting in her dropping out of school,” said Kenny Sebati, Northern Cape coordinator of Napwa.

Sebati said girls get a little support from a few individuals, while boys continue to distance themselves from the situation, making fun of it.

“People tend to worry more about other things, instead of worrying about the school days missed by the girl child.”

Regarding it as a crisis, Napwa asked for assistance from the National Heritage Council (NHC) to restore the dignity of disadvantaged children.

The NHC is reported to have made a contribution through its Ubuntu Project, headed by Matanato Ngwaila.

The Ubuntu Project is aimed at emulating the values of late President Nelson Mandela through making a difference in communities.

“Even though we are an HIV and AIDS organisation, we decided to assist in closing this gap and give support where we can, thus we approached the NHC,” said Sebati.

He said an amount of R10 000 had been allocated to them, which they would use for this programme.

Three schools from two districts in the province are reportedly benefitting from the first handover.

These are the Theron High School in Britstown and the Petrusville High School in the Pixley ka Seme District, and the Gamagara High School in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District.

“We are adopting these three schools to share what we got among them for at least the next two to three years,” Sebati promised.

He elaborated on how the donation has exposed the vulnerability of girls in rural areas, and how the help they receive are driving them to do more.

“One will be surprised to learn about the amount of drop-outs in the desolated areas. Most of the families depend on grants and have to travel long distances to town to buy toiletries and necessities.”

He said they also conducted sessions with learners of both sexes to break with the concept that there were boundaries between women and men issues, and that they needed to be dealt with separately.

“The session started off cold, as girls were embarrassed of being judged by boys, while the boys felt demystified of playing certain roles. But all we had to do was to clear the air.”

The organisation is inviting others to come on board and donate sanitary towels.

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