Today, I am going to tell you about a Local Hero who greets every female she meets with the phrase “How are you, my sister?” To Neema Namadamu, every female in the world is family, and she has dedicated her life to empowering them.
Location: Itombwe, DRC
Context: In the Congo, adolescent girls have limited to no access to hygienic sanitary solutions. Often they use methods which leave them at risk for infections or force them to miss school during menstruation which then alerts their fathers to their new status as “women” and makes them eligible to be married off to potential suitors.
Background: GO Local Hero Neema Namadamu opened the first media training center in rural Itombwe where she empowers women through computer literacy. One day she was speaking with the women at the center, and they asked Neema to help their adolescent daughters stay in school. Hearing their fears, Neema committed herself to creating reusable sanitary napkins for the girls and the Stay-in-School kits program was born.
Current Status: In March 2015, GO Campaign approved a grant for $13,553 to SAFECO to launch a pilot program to make and distribute reusable sanitary kits. Recognizing the need was so great, GO Campaign provided SAFECO with an additional $4,813 to purchase additional supplies to make more kits. To date, Neema has provided hygienic sanitary solutions to 1,000 girls, extending their educational opportunities and reducing their risk of being a child bride.
Angelique is 22 years old and in the 12th grade. She has had to work hard to continue her education, combating a lot of family and societal pressure to quit. She frequently had to miss classes when she was menstruating. She is ecstatic to have her Stay-in-School kit and no longer fears getting an infection. During her period, she can now walk around freely for the first time and attend all classes. She can now focus on her education and there are no barriers to getting her high school diploma.