14 June 2019

Sierra Leone: Moonteen Organises Seminar for Girls On Menstrual Hygiene

Makalay S. Sonda, Founder and Director, MoonTeen handing over sanitary pads and medicated soap to one school girl of Experimental school after the seminar

MoonTeen, a charity and educational organization based in Njala, Mokonde, and its environs has on Saturday 8th June organized a one-day seminar on menstrual Hygiene for young girls at the Faculty Building, Njala Campus, in Bo.

The one day seminar was geared towards raising awareness and educating young girls on the issue of menstruation and menstrual hygiene- a topic that people shy away or speak about in public.

Speaking during the seminar, Makalay S. Sonda, Founder and Director, MoonTeen, said her organization is made up of passionate individuals who wish to help young girls achieve their full potentials and be educated, and to become strong and independent women in future.

She said MoonTeen is a project that is geared towards creating a safe spaces for teenage girls to discuss and ask questions that they can't ask their parents/teachers because of taboo, adding that they operate in deprived rural communities of Kori Chiefdom

"It is about educating teenage girls on sex education (reproductive rights, children's rights, age of consent, reproductive health, contraception and abstinence, STIs and STDs) and also on social issues that affected teenage girls such as child marriage, child abuse, and rape,"she said.

She added that her organization is all about providing the correct and necessary information that teenage girls needed in this critical era of their lives as teenagers.

"Advocating for the rights of teenage girls to be upheld and respected by the community and also engaging parents/guardians about the physical, emotional and sexual wellbeing of their children/wards are other venture that the project will undertake,"Makalay said.

The MoonTeen boss further said the project was born out of the need to help reduce and possibly eradicate teenage pregnancy, child abuse and rape in the Njala community.

"Therefore, the project seeks to provide information that will enable girls to make informed choices about their life. Providing this critical information will enable girls to be aware of their sexuality (i.e. menstruation and puberty) and not to be ashamed of it,"the MoonTeen Director lamented.

Madam Sonda highlighted that they were constrained with funding as the project was presently funded by her and other well-wishers.

Dr. T. S. Sonda, Director Institute of Food Technology, Nutrition and Consumer Studies, Njala University, noted in his statement that the whole idea of MoonTeen started like a dream as he didn't quite understood what the founder was trying to come up with.

He added that ever since, he has been very passionate about the issue of girls.

"Having listened keenly , I can list three main factors here on menstrual implications.We have the physiological implications where the physiology of the girl starts changing , the hormone starts responding to certain development and then we have the psychological implications and the Socio-economic implications," he said , adding that those were the three categories of menstrual implications on girls.

He added that when he was in China, he realised that during certain time of the month, students wear something on their hands whenever they are on menstrual periods.

Keynote Speaker of the seminar, Dr. Fatmata Munu, said since 2014, the world came together and decided to celebrate world Menstruation Day.

She said in most part of the world, when women or girls were in their menstrual period, they were discriminated against, making allusion to places like Nepal, where people believed that those on menstruation shouldn't be around them.

"Whenever women in Nepal are on menstrual cycle, they will be in the hut for three or four days until their menstruation period ends before they return home," she said.

Dr. Munu added that in other places like India, women are not given or allowed touching any kitchen utensils and are isolated with the rest of the family whenever they are on their cycle.

"As soon as you start menstruation, it means your body becomes biologically ready to be a mother. So, if you have started seeing your menstrual period, and you have sex you will likely be pregnant," Dr. Munu said.

Dr. Munu further stated that menstrual education is very important as it helps young girls and women to become aware about themselves and know what to do, stating that young girls at Njala were lucky.

Madam Millicent Alie, Lecturer in the Institute of Food Technology, Nutrition and Consumer Studies, Njala University, noted in her presentation on diet that menstruation is the release of blood from the uterus through the vagina, adding that menstruation occurs in some women three or four days.

Kadie Samai, one of the participants expressed appreciation and thanked MoonTeen for educating them on menstrual hygiene.

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