“Our journey to Makoko Community was an adventurous and a worthwhile outreach. A journey that started on the mainland of the commercial city of Lagos and ended at the suburb of a swampy slum. We couldn’t believe the living condition of the people in the community” – Hameedat Balogun, Hope Spring
Water Lead Volunteer.
Figure 1: Cross-section of Makoko Community
The facilitating team, comprising 6 Hope Spring Water Volunteers and 3 Lady Care Staff set out to empower the girls in the community of Makoko, once referred to as the “Venice of Africa”, on the 19th of September 2018. They were welcomed by sights of children swimming in a river that could be thought to be a drainage water. Women were seen washing by the banks of the river whilst some men were seen fishing, which is the main source of livelihood in the community. The team were puzzled by how the children stay healthy, despite the very dirty nature of the water they turned to a recreational centre.
Figure 2: School Children going to School in a Make-shift Canoe
The first point of call was Ken Ade Private School, New Makoko where the school children were mainly young girls who have just started menstruation. During the workshop, it was obvious from the faces of the school children that most of the topics were new to them. Most of them have little or no knowledge of menstrual hygiene management. According to some of the participants interviewed, the topic is seen as a taboo which should not be discussed publicly. So the “surprise looks” on their faces were understandable. The participants were taught to be proud of their period and always feel free to discuss any challenges with their teachers or parents. Sensitization through Demonstration of healthy ways to use sanitary pads was employed since most of the girls are new to menstruation. They were also educated on how to monitor and calculate their menstrual cycles, so as not to be taken unaware. About 200 participants were present at the workshop, including some parents and teachers. The excited participants were given Lady Care sanitary pads at the end of the workshop.
Figure 3: Cross-section of Participants at Ken Ade Private School, Makoko
Finally, in order to measure the impact of the workshop, the students were asked to give a summary of why menstrual health matters. One of the students in the senior class demonstrated before the crowd and was awarded a customized Lady Care pen and additional sanitary pads, as a form of incentive. This idea made more students interested in participating in the “Question and Answer” Session.
To conclude the session, one of the students of Ken Ade Private School showed appreciation on behalf of the school, after which all the participants were given a branded pen with a monthly calendar to monitor their cycle.
The next point of call was Whayyinna Nursery and Primary School, which is a floating school on the murky water of Makoko. According to Nneka Oraeki – Hope Spring Water Volunteer, “We were surprised to see girls well above age, in the primary section of the school”. The Acting Director, Mr Afolabi, confirmed that the children in the community start school at a very late stage in life. The school children are not fluent in English and are most times taught in their native language of Egun. One of the teachers, Mrs Tongbe assisted the facilitating team with the translation during the workshop.
Considering the deplorable and unhealthy living conditions in the community, the facilitators emphasized the importance of cleanliness during menstruation. The facilitators also linked various diseases and infections to lack of cleanliness during menstruation. This really caught the attention of the participants. During the interactive session, it was evident that poverty was the cause of frequent use of unhygienic materials such as rags and squeezed papers, by some of the participants during menstruation. About 1000 Lady Care sanitary pads were donated to be kept within the school premises, to cater for girls seeing their period for the first time or need to change their pads during school hours.
Over a hundred girls participated in the workshop.
At the end of the visit to Makoko Community, about 2,000 sanitary pads were distributed in both schools.
Below are more pictures