The International Menstrual Hygiene Coalition (IMHC) has distributed menstrual hygiene kits to girls and women displaced by the ongoing socio-political crisis rocking Cameroon’s North West and South West regions, who took refuge at the Adagom 3 refugee settlement at Cross River State in neighbouring Nigeria. The donation was made on the occasion of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day commemorated last May 28, 2022.
Anglophone crisis refugees from more than 500 homes in some 16 communities at the Adagom 3 refugee settlement at Cross River State, Nigeria have received menstrual hygiene kits comprised of reusable sanitary pads, pants, soaps and buckets.
The gifts dubbed “dignity kits” were distributed to them by the International Menstrual Hygiene Coalition, an annual initiative coordinated by the Welisane Foundation, which aims at empowering girls to manage their periods in privacy, safety and in dignity.
According to the general coordinator of the coalition, who doubles as founder/president of the Welisane Foundation, Welisane Mokwe Nkeng, girls and women displaced by the Anglophone crisis live in desperate conditions, as most of them lack basic needs such as sanitary pads to take good care of themselves during their periods.
“We came to visit our sisters who fled the ongoing Anglophone crisis to settle in Nigeria. We are at Cross River State to donate pads, buckets and soaps on the occasion of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day…” Welisane said.
“We felt the need to reach out to those who may have a lot of basic needs and may not be able to meet up with them. Pads are one of those things that a girl cannot do without because menstruation is not negotiable. That is why we came here to support them and make sure that every girl has access to pads, be you displaced or not displaced, be you privileged or underprivileged. The right to pad is the right to health and so it is a human right for every girl to have access to pads.” She added.
Before distributing the kits, the girls and women were educated on how to use the reusable pads and manage their periods in safety. Some of them said that they were seeing sanitary pads for the first time.
14-year-old Ernestine Mbih, who said she had to flee from her native town Babanki, in the North-West region was one of the beneficiaries.
“At the end of each month we are wondering where we are going to get money and buy (sanitary) pads, but now, with this pad that we are going to use for one year, we are so very happy,” she said.
“It will reduce the risk of some girls getting pregnant when they go out to get money to buy pad. So we are very grateful and we are thankful that they have brought to us the most essential things that we need as women and young girls.” Mbih said.
She added that some girls go out for prostitution before their monthly flows begin to be able to raise money to buy sanitary pads.
Officials of the settlement equally expressed gratitude to the coalition for thinking about them and their plight, especially issues pertaining to the girl child, one of the most vulnerable groups in the society “I want to thank the organisation for coming. It is very important because we have many children, young girls who are vulnerable, when they remember us, come to the settlement we are happy. We appreciate everything. Visit us more to involve our children, especially the girl child to contribute in building the society.” Said the settlement chairman.
It is worth mentioning that the International Menstrual Hygiene Coalition carried out this activity for the second consecutive time, after the first phase was launched last year at the same settlement.
Its target this year was to reach out to 1,500 girls. It aims to do better the following years until the displaced girls and women have the opportunity to return to Cameroon.