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Soweto Youth Organization

In summer of 2019, I went to Kenya with my children. I volunteered with an organization called Soweto Youth Initiative in a neighborhood called “Kahawa West” which is a slum in Nairobi. The organization has many objectives, one of which is to educate young women and mothers on health, and provide sanitary napkins to them.

Sanitary napkins cost between $1 and $2 per package, which is not an insignificant amount of money in Kenya. As a point of reference, rent might cost $30/month, and many are paid $1/day working in their job. Those without money to purchase the sanitary napkins sometimes stayed home from school or work, as they were unable to work without sanitary napkins during their menstrual cycles.

The program to dispense sanitary napkins to women didn’t have adequate funding, nor an organized system to dispense the napkins. I thought it was really important to become involved with the program, as it seemed like the lack of sanitary napkins was a notable barrier to education, and I’m a huge believer in learning (particularly for girls!).

 We estimated that approximately 100 girls and women needed sanitary napkins a month, and that a one-month supply would cost approximately $2/month. We purchased the napkins for six months in the weeks that I was visiting.

 It was decided that one Saturday a month an educational program would be held, to both give a health talk, and to dispense the sanitary napkins. This happened one Saturday while I was there, and many girls and women attending.  Subsequent to my departure, the meetings continued to occur approximately once a month, with distribution of the sanitary napkins on these days.

The program has consistently supported 100 girls and mothers a month with both health talks and sanitary napkins since August, 2019, which is excellent. There is not internal organization within Soweto Youth Initiative to fund the program, so I’m continuing to support them.