• During the pandemic, girls and young mothers in Kajiado were forced to exchange sexual favours for sanitary pads and food.
• As schools closed, they became susceptible to reverting back to these means of getting pads to help them during their vulnerable time of the month.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many girls found themselves in terrible predicaments caused by the constraints the pandemic brought with it.
For girls from families not well-off, acquiring basic needs such as food and sanitary towels meant to protect their dignity during a vulnerable time of the month, was difficult.
There was a nationwide increase in the number of unplanned teenage pregnancies as young girls were idle and others susceptible to engaging in the wrong kind of extracurricular activities.
In Ngong area of Kajiado county, some adolescent girls were left with no choice but to sell their bodies off to strange men who promised them pads in exchange for sex.
Young mothers in the area were also exposed to the same fate as they had to exchange sexual favours for food, so they could feed their young families at the height of the pandemic.
Jackline Saleiyan noticed that the girls and young women in Ngong were in dire need of help and she started a pads drive with her close friends.
This later grew into a bigger initiative where the girls and young women received mentorship and small funds to help them start businesses that will sustain them during these tough times.
“When schools are closed, these girls are vulnerable because they become easy prey to men who wish to take advantage of them”
“That is why when schools close, A Pack A Month begins efforts to reach girls in Kajiado. We want them to go back to school in one piece,” she said.
Last week, A Pack A Month conducted a week-long sanitary pads drive across Kajiado to help preserve the dignity of the girls in the county.
They reached girls and young women in Ngong, Rongai and Matasia areas.
Through the organisation’s Made For A Purpose and I am Priceless campaign, the girls are given valuable life skills, that teach them how there is no price that can be put on their bodies.
“Apart from mentoring the girls, we also teach them how to cope with stress because the pandemic is taking a mental toll on everyone. We also teach the young women economic skills so they know which areas to invest the funds we give them,” she said.
In a past interview with the Star, Saleiyan revealed that 20 of the 400 girls in her programme had gotten pregnant during the nine months that schools closed last year.
"We were pushed many strides back. Violence went up as some men refused to pay for sex and got violent when girls wanted their money," she said.
So when schools closed this time for a one-week holiday, Saleiyan felt that she had to reach out to the girls again without leaving anything to chance.
“One week can be what changes a girl’s life forever so, I had to take the opportunity to provide to them these basic necessities,” she said.
She also hopes to keep organising various extracurricular activities for the girls such as football tournaments to prevent them from being susceptible to engaging in transactional sex.
As schools reopen this week, Saleiyan is hopeful that the girls will be set and ready to study without worries because they have pads.
Edited by D Tarus