In Nigeria, conversation about menstrual hygiene is very conservative and only few people are comfortable with have such conversation in the public. For Barrister Nguzo Ogbodo, the President & Founder of Hopes and Dreams Initiative this should not be the standard. For over 5 years, Barrister Ogbodo has been taking the messages of menstrual health and growing female confidence to thousands of students across Nigeria. October 15, 2019 will remain a memorable day for the over 230 students, especially young ladies, from 7 schools across Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja who attended the Global Handwashing Day event hosted by Hopes and Dreams Initiative.
Monica Obadiah, a student of LEA Primary School – Aleita is a past beneficiary of Hope and Dreams Initiative’s project. Monica now comfortable shares her knowledge about menstrual health, taking care of female genitals and improving girls’ confidence during menstruation, even to her male colleagues.
In an interview, Monica said, “In May 2019, Hopes and Dreams Initiative gave us reusable pads and thought us about menstrual health. I have learnt a lot of things about menstruation, especially about how to keep clean during menstruation. I equally understand how important it is for us to consistently wash our hands and have our bath – preferably twice a day, especially during our period.”
Speaking about the reusable pad she received, Monica said, “It has increased my confidence during my monthly period and helps me to stay healthier unlike when I used to use rags during my period; it has also saved me a lot of money which I would have spent on the normal type of pads.”
According to Monica, knowledge about menstrual health is still very poor in her community, “Many of my colleagues don’t know about menstrual health and since we are teenagers some of us are seeing our period for the first time. These days, I go to school with extra pads and pants so that I can any of my friends or colleagues who unexpectedly see their period. My friends now see me as an ambassador for menstrual hygiene.”
During the Global Handwashing Day event coordinated by Hopes and Dreams Initiative, another student, Esther Chukwuka, publicly demonstrated how both the reusable and non-reusable pads should be properly used by females during their monthly menstruation, emphasizing the need to wash hands before and after changing their pads. She also called on male students not to discriminate or laugh at their female colleagues during their monthly menstruation.