How Saumu’s Determination Transformed Menstrual Hygiene in Bugana Village.

Inspiring Change: A story of gender transformation.

In the small village of Bungana, nestled in Uganda’s Namayingo district, lives a compassionate young boy named Saumu. At just 12 years old, Saumu’s curiosity and empathy set him apart, always eager to assist others. His passion for learning fueled his dream of becoming a teacher, a dream he shared with his sister, Swabra. The siblings often studied together, pushing each other to excel in their studies.

However, Saumu noticed a troubling pattern: Swabra frequently missed school for a few days each month. Concerned and curious, Saumu approached his sister to understand why. Initially hesitant, Swabra eventually confided in him, revealing her struggles with menstrual hygiene. She lacked access to sanitary products, leading to embarrassment and discomfort that kept her away from school.

Saumu was shocked and saddened. He hadn’t realized the impact menstruation could have on a girl’s education, nor had he known his parents struggled to afford the 5000 shillings needed monthly for sanitary pads. Determined to help, Saumu sought advice from their school health club teacher, a member of the Amref Health Africa-supported Journeys Plus trainers club. She explained the importance of menstrual hygiene and the barriers girls like Swabra face.

Motivated to make a difference, Saumu spoke with his teacher, Mrs. Nabirye, about the issue. Together, they devised a plan to support girls during their menstrual cycles. Saumu and his friends agreed to make reusable sanitary pads using cloth. They also reached out to Amref Health Africa’s Heroes for Gender Transformative Action program for seed funding to procure additional materials. Additionally, they set up a private donation box at school for discreet contributions.

With the funds raised, they purchased materials and, with the help of the girls in the Journeys Plus school club, produced numerous sanitary pads for distribution. They also collaborated with the school to create a temporary private and safe space where girls could manage their periods comfortably. To tackle the stigma surrounding menstruation, the club teacher initiated a series of school debates and discussions, fostering a respectful and supportive environment for both boys and girls to learn about menstruation.

Saumu’s efforts transformed the school. Absenteeism among girls decreased significantly, creating a more inclusive and understanding school environment. Swabra and other girls now attend classes regularly, focusing on their education without fear or shame.

Saumu’s actions did not go unnoticed. The school and the program recognized him as a hero for gender transformative action. His story inspired other boys to support their sisters and friends, promoting a culture of empathy and equality. Saumu’s dream of becoming a teacher seemed closer than ever as he realized that true education extends beyond books and exams—it includes understanding and supporting one another. Through his actions, Saumu became an inspiration, demonstrating that even small efforts can lead to significant change.

Join Amref Health Africa in Uganda in celebrating boys and men like Saumu who take the initiative to support women and girls in managing menstruation, paving the way for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld.