When we think of refugees, it’s unlikely that menstrual hygiene is the first thing to come to mind. Yet the lack of basic sanitary provision makes life miserable for refugee women and girls who are on their period. In Uganda, our local partners are working hard to ease this burden.
There are currently around 1.4 million refugees living in Uganda, the majority of whom come from neighbouring South Sudan. Tearfund’s local church partner, Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG), is working in the Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement, home to 124,000 South Sudan and Congolese refugees.
Supporting girls who have reached menstrual age is a huge challenge for the government of Uganda, with a lack of sanitary pads being cited as a key reason for a large increase in school dropouts.
There has been a public outcry and demands that the government should take action; however, nothing has yet been done, and so the church is stepping into the gap.
‘This changed my story’
‘Before PAG came, I was suffering a lot,’ says Grace*, a 35-year-old mother who fled to Uganda to escape conflict in South Sudan. ‘We were forced to sell part of our food ration in order to buy pads. My girls dropped out of school because of fear for stigma around periods.’
So far, PAG has provided a total of 15,000 women and girls with hygiene kits – including Grace and her daughters. These contain four reusable pads, three bars of soap, a wash bucket and underwear. Training was also provided on the best way to use the kits to minimise any impact on the environment.
As well as boosting hygiene and improving health among refugees, the project has enabled many girls to go back to school – girls who had previously dropped out due to lack of pads and the stigma associated with it.
‘This changed my story and the lives of my girls,’ Grace tells us. ‘My girls are able to attend school, they are happy and comfortable. We are so grateful and appreciate PAG for their support – they have really rescued us!’
This week (18 – 24 June) is Refugee Week. Please join us in praying for refugees around the world:
God of rescue,
We thank you for your love – a love that knows no walls.
We cry out on behalf of refugees around the world: protect them as they travel; keep them safe from danger and ill-treatment; comfort and heal them in their distress.
May they find safe places to stay, with all the provision of food, water, shelter and clothing they need.
Move the hearts of political leaders around the world; give them a sense of compassion and justice; and help us all to create a world in which no one has to be a refugee.