Menstrual Hygiene Education for adolescent girls in schools.

Considering the topic of Menstrual Hygiene Management shrouded by a culture of silence in a traditional centered considering in a traditional Indian rural society, Gramalaya decided to launch an MHM programme. Gramalaya has launched an MHM program for adolescent school girl students in 14 blocks of the Tiruchirappalli District. The project is supported by Bank of America through DSP Merriyl Lynch, as a part of the CSR activities. Gramalaya to impart Menstrual Hygiene Management Education among adolescent girls in 14 selected schools of the Tiruchirappalli District in Tamil Nadu will construct girls friendly toilet complexes at a total cost of Rs.1 crore including MHM education, personal hygiene and IEC materials.The toilet complex will have toilets, urinal facilities and incinerator for disposal of used sanitary napkins.

MHM is a subject not known to majority of rural women who are keeping total silence and do not discuss the matter with anyone including the daughters. Scientific study has proved that absence of good MHM practices result in Adolescent girls getting a shock during the menarche followed by a drama. Mostly, it is from the senior students or relatives living in urban areas that they get the first information regarding MHM. The feeling and belief they have from others make them feel a sense of guilt, not knowing that the menstrual blood is the most hygienic blood through which they pass on to their next generation all the traits as said by J.Geetha, Advisor, Gramalaya.

A three day MHM orientation training was conducted to the Health Educators at Kolakudipatti with resource persons within and outside and from Ecofemme Pondicherry. The first girls friendly toilet complex with incinerator was opened at Valadi Government Higher Secondary School, today when Ms.Jual D'Souza Days, of Dasra cut the ribbon. Mr.S.Damodaran, founder of Gramalaya said that it was the prestigious and innovative project launched for educating the adolescent girls and through them entire community on MHM and other personal Hygiene behaviours. Under the programme about 3700 Adolescent girls in the schools and through them, 7000 women in the community will benefit. This would greatly improve the health and hygiene of the girls and women in rural areas.

Mr.Anurag Singh of Dasra commented the unique initiative of the Gramalaya and the meticulous methodologies adapted by the Gramalaya for propagation of MHM, a most neglected sector of sanitation.Simple IEC materials were provided to the Health Educators, who organised first awareness programme to the female staff and teachers to impart MHM messages.

The Health Educators conducted MHM awareness programme in the schools. Often, they found that the students who were not prepared to ask any questions due to shyness. However, a small group of students approach them and came out with their MHM problems and issues after the programme.

Operational maintenance of the urinals, toilet and how to dispose of used sanitary pads in the incinerator provided was explained by P.Kavitha, Monitoring Officer, Gramalaya. Further she said, improper disposal of used sanitary pads posed a grave danger to the environment and hence the need for incinerator.

The students were advised to keep in their houses a small cement pot with tight lid in which they can put the used pads and burn them, after 4- 5 days. MHM student clubs with a teacher as coordinator organised in all the 14 schools.

Reaching out the community:

During the MHM orientation programme the health educators advised the students to convey basic principles of MHM to their mothers, relatives and students of other schools living in the village.

The Health Educators during sanitation and hygiene programmes organised various villages included MHM as a special component. Thus the whole programme will educate over 10000 women in each block, it was hoped.

Mr.M.Elangovan, Executive Director, Gramalaya, The Headmistress Mrs.S.Geetha, Valadi Panchayat President Mr.R.Mathi, Parent Teachers Association Mr.R.Dhanasekaran participated in the inauguration program. S.Yogeswari, Health Educator of Gramalaya proposed a Vote of thanks.