To never have to start a sentence with "I wish I would have..."


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I just got back to site from a week and a half worth of traveling and putting on reproductive/menstrual health presentations to girls all over Western Uganda. I put on 5 presentations total: one to the new peace corps trainees, one on international women's day to 170 secondary girls, one to a class of p7 girls, one to over 400 secondary girls, and one to over 130 girls at another PTC. It's good to be home and I'm beat, but I freakin loved every minute of it! This is something I am so passionate about, and not to sound cocky, but something I am really good at. I teach girls and women (primary, secondary, girls at the college, womens' groups, health center workers)basic reproductive health, the gyst of their menstrual cycles, Afripads, and conclude with a Q&A where I am brutally honest with responses to their questions...I'm talking the idea of "safe days" to masturbation to myths about avoiding pregnancy. You'd be surprised at the break down of information and some of the misconceptions that exist over here.

A typical presentation lasts anywhere from one to three hours, depending on how much time the girls want to spend on the Q&A. I start by showing diagrams of both the male and female reproductive systems. I have the girls name and define each part. Then we move on to the menstrual cycle and talk about ways they cope with their periods here in Uganda. You find that many girls use pads during their periods (which cost about 3,000UGX per pack) but they also use things like towels, old clothes, chunks of mattress foam, toilet paper, and I kid you not feathers...that's hygienic. Then we do the breakdown of how much they are spending on pads a year, 36,000UGX if they use one pack of pads a month. I present an alternative to disposable pads, the Afripad.

Afripads are reusable menstrual pads made here in Uganda by Ugandan women. Each pack comes with the pad, 2 straight liners, 3 winged liners, a plastic carrying case for soiled liners, and instructions in Luganda and English. The total cost is 3,500UGX. Not only do Afripads save girls money, but they are also more reliable than their alternatives, ie, feathers, and they are environmentally friendly. Each pack can last a girl through 12 cycles, or one year, if she takes care of it and washes it properly. That means that for slightly more than the cost of one pack of pads, girls have an alternative that will last them through the whole year. It's common in Uganda for girls to miss school when they are on their periods. Especially in primary school, when girls have to sit for their exit exams, missing a week of school every month is hugely detrimental. Afripads aims at giving girls a cheaper option to help keep them in school. If you want more information check out

In other news I am one of the co-coordinators for camp GLOW this year, which I am super pumped about! You guys know how much I loved being a counselor last year and I can't even begin to express my excitement about being behind the scenes and planning the camp for this year. More to come soon, including ways you guys can help out!

Other than that things are pretty much the same around here. Observing my second years out in the field doing their school practice, starting to teach my first years, playing volleyball with them, getting my girls' club up and running. Not much more going on.

Hope all is well stateside. Happy birthday, Momma!

Much love,

1 comment:

  1. Great work Ashley. Thank you for keeping us informed.
    Judy Leavell