On May 28th 2019, SODEI Cameroon joined other organizations throughout the world to celebrate the World Menstrual Hygiene Day under the theme “It’s Time for Action.” SODEI commemorated this day with an additional theme of its own – “No More Limits”. Indeed, SODEI set out to make their voice heard and relentlessly raise awareness on menstrual hygiene through a pilot outdoor campaign organized at the Bota Custom Camps 1 – 3 Community in the Limbe Sub Division to educate underprivileged girls and women on menstrual hygiene and registered a success.
During this one-day campaign that held in the afternoon of May 28th 2019, the SODEI team of volunteers presented a comprehensive lecture on menstrual hygiene. The lecture began with an interactive session where participants were given the opportunity to express themselves, share ideas, personal beliefs and experiences with managing menstruation. After the hour-long interactive session, participants were lectured on the physiology of menstruation, the menstrual cycle, body changes which occur during menstruation, the age of menarche, menstrual hygiene practices, management of dysmenorrhea, how to adequately use disposable and reusable sanitary pads and deconstructing erroneous beliefs on menstruation which effectively carried the message of the day which was, no more limits.
During the discussions, it was revealed that in the Bota Custom Camp community like in many others, issues concerning reproductive health including menstrual health are considered a taboo subject and most women and young girls shy away from such topics. This contributed to the high level of ignorance that exists among the women and girls in this community on menstrual health. Consequently, a generation of young women whose first reaction to their first menstruation is to be scared and ashamed, with little or no knowledge at all on how to manage their menstrual hygiene because of the myths which surround menstruation.
The SODEI Menstrual Hygiene event was thus timely in this community whose women and girls are mostly workers at the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), wives or daughters of male workers in the CDC. Participants were driven with enthusiasm as they received simple and practical explanations and their misconceptions corrected. Participants asked lots of questions and appreciated the answers given to them by the SODEI volunteers with applause. Female Volunteers on the SODEI team later on shared their own experiences of when they started menstruating and this was closely followed by experiences of 4 of the participants in keeping with the theme of no more limits, to make these women feel comfortable with discussing menstrual hygiene, no longer a taboo but a natural process experienced by every woman in the world.
The program ended on a merry note with the distribution of reusable and disposable sanitary pads made available by SODEI to the participants who demonstrated gratitude, joy and happiness not only for the little token they received but for the knowledge they had gained. The leaders of the local community extended an open invitation to SODEI to come and hold more educative programmes in their community.