Grantee Spotlight- Luhwahwa Youth Development Foundation
In December 2013, Luhwahwa Youth Development Foundation(LUYODEFO) received a $3,260 grant from Circle of Sisterhood to engage women and girls in menstrual hygiene education to promote retention and academic success in the Kasese districts in the Rwenzori region of western Uganda.
LUYODEFO is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides support to marginalized communities. LUYODEFO was formed by a group of motivated youth to respond to the plight of children, youth, women, and men impacted greatly by political conflict, disease, and extreme poverty in western Uganda.
LUYODEFO fulfills its mission through health, education and community initiatives. Their grant application highlighted a major, yet traditionally silent, issue hindering girls’ development and education – puberty and the onset of menstruation. Millions of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are disempowered by the simple biological process of menstruation. Many girls and women in Uganda cannot afford expensive store-bought products in order to have better menstrual health and hygiene management (MHM) practices. The lack of sanitary products is one of the factors reinforcing absenteeism during menstruation, which in turn relates to poor performance and low persistence. LUYODEFO is working to bring locally-made, reusable sanitary kits to schools while educating girls and their families about the importance of MHM. Removing barriers to education is at the core of Circle of Sisterhood’s mission and granting to LUYODEFO for work in this area was a strong fit.
We recently received LUYODEFO’s interim report and are pleased to report that they are actively conducting menstrual hygiene education alongside kit distribution, while also providing counseling to girls. Staff and volunteers are conducting community-wide menstrual hygiene education through churches targeting parents (men and women), with the hope that involving parents will help break the stigma around menstruation and that girls/women will get family support in managing their periods.
As their report states: “Introduction of such a project in schools and the community has not been easy; many people still look at the topic of menstruation as the ‘untalked’, but our team is working tirelessly to break these cultural taboos and have menstruation looked at as an issue related to sexual and reproductive health, human rights, personal hygiene, education, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) facilities, and women’s health.”
We are proud to support LUYODEFO and its important barrier-removing work in Uganda. May it serve as a reminder of the many privileges we enjoy as girls and women living in the United States.