Former Big Brother Africa The Chase Representative, Natasha Tonthola will on 4th December launch Mama Africa Foundation Trust (MAFT) at Don Bosco mini stadium in Lilongwe.
According to Tonthola, the launch whose guest of honour will be Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati is intended to raise awareness, advocate and fundraise for washable sanitary pads for girls to remain in school.
She said the launch will also highlight a child marriage mitigation intervention in the light of the increasing trend in child marriages which are among the most devastating casualties in Malawi’s development agenda, particularly because the girl child has lagged behind in crucial areas such as education and social progress.
She explains: “It is one of the primary goals of MAFT to help girls remain in school and therefore avoid early and child marriages and prevent the consequences that these girls might face in the future. It is reported that there are over 5 million school going girls between the ages of 6 to 20 years in Malawi. Of these 40 percent do not go to school for a week per month while they are menstruating which makes them fall behind in class and sometimes even drop out of school altogether.
“The reason for this is that they have no means to acquire sanitary wear. The Money that is available to their families is used mainly on basic necessities especially food. Hence many of these girls do not have adequate basic underwear for daily use let alone the appropriate and effective sanitary wear to allow them attend school during their monthly menstruations.”
She added that this is an added challenge to the already existing problems that lead to the high school dropout rate among female students as well as early and child marriages among girls from disadvantaged background.
“These girls also lack access to health education and/or sexual reproductive health (SRH) programs and are susceptible to abuse and sexually transmitted diseases as a result of their circumstances. Female students therefore face many challenges in terms of hygiene and sanitation. Many schools have insufficient numbers of pit latrines and dry latrines (change rooms) and where available they are largely poorly designed and maintained,” said Thonthola.
Apart from that MAFT is proposing to initiate a dignity project for school going girls in rural and peri-urban areas which aims to produce and provide underwear and reusable sanitary wear to school-going girls from underprivileged and vulnerable families. Recognizing that many of these girls have limited access to health education, the project intends to also design an apron with female sexual reproductive parts and a guide book to provide a friendly sexual reproductive health education program to the targeted girls and young women.
MAFT has already designed underwear and reusable sanitary pads that will be produced in Malawi by Mama Africa Foundation Trust (MAFT) for female primary and secondary school students. These sanitary pads will be made from natural and chemical free materials. The pads are environmentally friendly because they are dioxin free, biodegradable and are cost effective as a set of ten pads can be reused for up to five years.
For this project to come to life the foundation hopes to fundraise and partner with both the development partners, the international community, international and local NGOs and other stakeholders who are working tirelessly to empower children, women and youth in particular the girl child. MAFT therefore hopes to reach out to 2.4 million school going girls in five years as this will be an ongoing project.
The Trust is a collaborating partner in development with government through the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.
Apart from Tonthola another former Malawian BBA representative who is making a difference to the society is Hazel Warren who came up with a recipe book and started empowering women and the youths on how they can make decent lives out of hard work and focus on their God given talent.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :