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Supporting women’s health, Zimbabwean poets provide pads

Activists Dumisani Albert Matewe left, and Vongai Monica Mujakachi at right are poets committed to providing free pads to women in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. (Photos courtesy of Matewe and Mujakachi.)

Bulawayo, ZIMBABWE – After seeing  a gap in the community where many girls are without sanitary pads, two youth poets are donating pads to underprivileged girls in Bulawayo.

Dumisani Albert Matewe and Vongai Monica Mujakachi have started a campaign called “Donate a pad and let her pride shine.”

The two wanted to change the world through their poetry, they said, but realized they needed to take other action, too.

For girls, pads are not a choice but a need. 

“We realized that when it comes to women there is a choice we do not make and that is menstruation, it’s nature,” said Mujakachi.

Without access to pads, some girls and women use other items to absorb the menstrual flow and sometimes those materials are unsanitary and can cause other health problems.

Pads are needed to make the cycle comfortable, but they are not free, and not everyone can afford them, she said, and sometimes, a girl finds herself in school suddenly in need of a pad.

“Also being a woman when you do not have them it becomes very disturbing and you lose your confidence,” said Mujakachi. “Also for health reasons, pads are the most effective.”

Matewe said much of the need is in rural areas.

“ln most cases, if we look at the remote areas and those rural villages they go to an extent of using pieces of clothes just to substitute the pad since they can’t afford to have access to them,” said Matewe.

He said it becomes difficult for many women and “makes them lose their confidence.”

That’s why, he said, they ask for donations to keep girls and women confident.

“It’s not by choice to go through that cycle, as its by nature,” said Matewe, adding that these gestures of humanity can “help each other and every aspect of our lives.”

Men and women can both play a part in helping the cause, said Mujakachi.

“It’s also not that they all cannot afford [to buy pads], but it’s to make them take it off the list and focus on other things,” Mujakachi said. “The vision is to help women by donating these pads and we can do so by joining hands. Our aim is to make it an ongoing project after seeing the response of people.”

Mujakachi said there are people who can afford pads and are willing to buy them for those who cannot.

“The help l get is from individuals who donate towards the campaign,” said Mujakachi.

When asked about their future plans, Matewe said they want to build a care center or a charity home for those in need.

For now, he wants the campaign to distribute pads to be ongoing until there is a  permanent place where girls and women can get pads for free.

Makhosazana Kunene is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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