By Andrew Nsoseka
Grace Chin Foundation, one of the frontline Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, with a particular interest in menstrual hygiene, has distinguished itself from others, over the years, by continually taking menstrual health campaigns, often accompanied by distribution of sanitary pads, to women and girls in several communities in the Southwest region.
According to its Founder and President, Mary Jane Chin Yaya, Grace Chin Foundation, prioritises “humanity first above all else. Creating a community of empowered people filled with awareness of what is essential”.
In its several campaigns, and particularly that on menstrual hygiene, the foundation has reached out to several communities especially in Cameroon’s Southwest region, where it does not only teach women and young girls menstrual hygiene, but goes further to teach them how to take good care of their bodies. The campaigns are often accompanied by donations of free menstrual hygiene kits to those targeted. The beneficiaries of the menstrual hygiene campaigns are also taught how to use the sanitary kits donated to them.
Talking about her organisation’s impact in the domain of menstrual health, Mary Jane said they have received positive feedback.
“…positive because it is an essential issue that is plaguing our communities and carrying out these campaigns has not only created awareness, but a wind of change, whereby, parents can talk with their children on menstrual health, and teach them how to go about it.”
Mary Jane, however, regretted that “menstruation is not getting enough attention as it should. Condoms can be given for free (not much of a necessity) but there is a need that is important to every female of child bearing age that is not recognised as it should. Girls should have easy access to sanitary pads at home and in schools, parents should talk to their children about this and help them heal from any trauma they may have encountered while going through the new developments in their bodies.
“Enough is not being done to mainstream it, why? Because many people still believe that it is a woman’s thing and should be kept secret whereas, this is a natural process that links to every one including men.”
The President of Grace Chin Foundation revealed that, within the last six months, her foundation has talk to at least 1,000 women on menstrual hygiene management. Apart from carrying menstrual hygiene campaigns communities mostly in the Southwest region, the foundation has also reached out to to several primary and secondary schools, where multitudes are educated on menstrual hygiene. Like the previous ones the campaigns, are accompanied by distribution of hundreds of sanitary pads to those targeted.
Mary Jane revealed that they have distributed sanitary pads to girls, not just in the conflict-affected regions but also in Douala, Littoral Region, as well.
On the huddles faced by the foundation, she stated that “the main challenge we face is funding, it is difficult to work without funds to buy pads and carryout trainings. Even in the field, distribution can be limited because the population is more than what we have to offer.”
The Grace Chin Foundation, apart from its special focus on menstrual hygiene, also donates to orphanages, as well as to other social institutions in need of humanitarian help. This is usually done based on assessed needs of concerned communities.