Amref Health Africa Heroes: Sarah Manana

Sarah Manana, Amref Health Africa in Uganda, clean water project manager

Sarah is a Project Officer for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at Amref Health Africa in Uganda where innovative programmes are leading teachers and students (boys and girls alike) to talk about menstruation as they would any other health topic. 

“In schools, I train senior women teachers in supporting girls that are about to reach puberty to learn to manage their menstruation. In Uganda, it is a taboo for most mothers to talk about menstruation with their daughters and the girl children often miss four to five school days each month when they experience menstruation. This means the girls don’t perform as well at school and get frustrated and drop out of school. The literacy rate for women in Uganda is 66% (compared to 79% for men). 
Amref Health Africa wants to change this state of affairs by demystifying menstrual hygiene. We want to first break the silence and also confront the myths. There are so many myths to do with menstrual hygiene, for example it is believed that a girl in her menses should not cross a road and go anywhere; she should stay at home. How then can she travel to school? 
 I am happy that because of our work the girls can now open up and talk with the senior women when they are experiencing menstruation. The boys in the schools we have sensitized are very supportive; some boys help in making re-usable pads for the girls and they no longer laugh at girls when they accidentally stain their uniforms. School attendance has also improved since the girls do not stay home during menstruation.”
Source: 2016 Habari, published February 2016