By Mustapha Jallow
The Gambia Red Cross Society’s (GRCS) Kanifing Municipality (KM) Branch on Wednesday 15th June 2021, launched the project: “Smile for Hope of the Pad Drive”, to promote and raise awareness of female menstrual hygiene and health.
The project aims to support School going girls and other young women, during their menstrual periods while in School. It is also meant to educate and promote their understanding of menstrual hygiene through concerted efforts so as to put smiles on their faces during their monthly menstruations.
The event which was themed on: “Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health’’, was attended by girls from different Schools within the Municipality, members of GRCS, representatives from the area, KM Red Cross’ youth branch including other female social activists.
The project’s authorities indicated that an outreach campaign will be conducted in Schools across the regions where students and other young females will be sensitised on the issue of menstrual hygiene.
“Menstrual hygiene is extremely important and we should not allow these five days to stop us from being who we are, because we are unstoppable,’’ Rohey Cham, a Red Cross volunteer, told participants.
Delivering his opening remarks, Alasan Senghore, Secretary General of the GRCS, said the initiative could not have come at a better time.
According to him, there is no better terminology or package like ‘smile for hope’ because this is acquired within the context, ideals and principles of the International Red Cross Society.
He said before the outbreak of COVID-19, “our economies were struggling”; that people were also struggling to get access to food, health and education, and that these are three basic needs that people will talk about and struggle for all times.
Senghore recalled that a survey was conducted in Africa to find out about household economy.
Senghore said they asked households if they have money, what their priorities will be; that it became very clear that access to food and health comes first before education.
He said menstrual hygiene is related to health because it can have medium to long-time implications on girls and women particularly during their reproductive health lives or even on their general wellbeing.
Fatou M. Secka, Gender Chairperson of the KM Red Cross Branch said “Smile for Hope” was initiated by her community members as a means of putting smiles on the faces of women and girls; that ‘smile for hope’ is a pilot project but that they have other minor projects they will be initiating which includes ‘Pad Drive’ distribution.
“We also have usable clothes and they will be given to the valuable people because we know that we have some people such as the mentally ill on the streets, who do not have clothes. So it is important to say how best can we help these people because they feel excluded and isolated in society,’’ Secka said.