As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise and public schools remain closed in Malawi, a local NGO has started distributing sanitary materials and information about COVID-19 to vulnerable girls in rural communities.
For Veronica Kamanga, a 16-year-old girl, the donation is a relief for her because it had been very hard for her to get such sanitary products since her parents could not afford to get one for her continuously. All along she has been struggling to take care of herself due to lack of such resources.
“Life is very challenging for most of us here in the village, we hardly access better sanitary materials because of poverty and sometimes we fail to go to school and other public meetings once we (are) experiencing menstruation period,” she said.
Just like many other girls in rural areas of Malawi, accessing quality hygiene products like soap and sanitary pads is challenging. Often times, this forces these young girls to engage themselves in sexual activities to get money in return.
Proper plans are being implemented to serve these young girls. According to Faith Chikwewa, Project Officer for the Nancholi Youth Organisation (NAYO). The girls are given information on how they can protect themselves and their homes from COVID-19 infections and they are also given soap and sanitary pads for their personal hygiene.
According to Chikwewa, many girls in rural areas are not accessing information about COVID-19 and personal health due to lack of access to information. For this reason, they have initiated this project to empower young girls with such information and materials in order to clear the gap.
“We believe that COVID-19 outbreak has increased girls’ duties in caring for the elderly and those that are ill hence high chances that they can easily get infected.
“Many people overlook the importance of equipping young girls with relevant information about COVID-19 and personal health. By the end of this project, we believe that these girls will be empowered with knowledge and skills on how to protect themselves from COVID-19 and the effects of lack of personal hygiene material,” she said.
According to the Communications Officer for the project, Susan Chipiko, the project aims at reaching out to all vulnerable girls in Malawi and so far they have managed to secure a radio space at a local radio station where they are regularly discussing these issues targeting both girls and boys. Enditem