Breaking Taboos around Reproductive Health: Bearly’s story
Bearly, 16, is a grade eight student at Dhaytuli Full Cycle Primary School in Dollo Ado district of the Somali region. A second born to her parents having six children, Bearly is among the top performing students at her school and a very active member of the Girls Club established and supported by Save the Children’s NORAD funded education project.
Bearly said she used to hate the days when she had her period. “I had to miss my classes during those days. Our school did not have any facilities where we can change and wash. On those days, I used to stay home and that was something I hated to do because I love school.”
Save the Children trained Bearly and other girls in her school on adolescent sexual and reproductive health. “When the trainers first discussed menstruation, we were all very shy. But when they started talking about how important it is to properly handle menstruation and keep ourselves tidy, we realized that we weren’t doing things we ought to do,” remembered Bearly. Gradually she said the training cleared her long time doubts of how to deal with her menstrual experiences in the face of a long standing tradition in her community that considers discussions on such reproductive health issues a taboo. “Thanks to Save the Children, we have a girl-only space where we change our sanitary pads and we have also sufficient water to keep clean,” she said.
As members of the Girls Club, “I and my friends prepare and deliver educational messages to our fellow students on various reproductive health issues. I’ll remain active in our club, and continue to educate students and particularly girls in our school on adolescent sexual and reproductive health,” Bearly expressed her commitment.
Through its NORAD funded Building Resilience of Education System project in Somali region, Save the Children established and supported girls clubs throughout ten target schools in Dollo Ado and Dollo Bay districts of the Somali Region in Ethiopia. In addition, Save the Children has supplied sanitary pads to adolescent girls in the most remote rural schools in Somali region, helping more than 1,600 girls in these areas.