Helen is a 14 year old eighth grader in one of the schools that are conducting the CorStone Youth First Kenya program in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya. She asked us to share her story about her recent personal experience.
I live with my grandmother in a village in a small hut. My mum left us 2 years ago in search of a job and she has not come back to see us since then. After school, I do some work for neighbors and in return, they give us some food.
A need to understand my body
One day while at school I felt some severe pains in my abdomen. The pain was so severe that I had to go home. I noted some blood stains on my underwear and was very nervous. I thought I was going to die. I told a neighbor what had happened. She told me not to worry for I had started my monthly periods.
I went home and cried my heart out. I did not have money to buy pads so I stayed at home for the whole week. This became my habit for the following four months. I missed a week of school each month because I was too embarrassed to go to school and I did not know how to take care of myself during that week.
To pass the time, I would try and read alone at home but the situation was not helpful for my condition. I was alone, very frustrated, and did not understand my body.“I wished that I could reverse the days I had spent away from school, at home crying and worried.”
Student Participant, Helen | Youth First, Kenya
Knowledge becomes a tool to thrive
Not long after that, we started the Youth First sessions at my school. We had weekly lessons about different topics that taught us about our emotions, how to deal with conflict, personal hygiene and how our attitudes can have a positive impact on a challenging situation.
I will never forget the day our facilitator taught us about menstruation. She taught us what happens during puberty and why, and what we need to take care of our bodies. During this session, I learned that the 12 other girls in my group also receive their menses, just like me. They did not have to miss school at all.
I also learned that receiving menses is normal and all women receive them. Periods are not dirty or unhealthy. In fact, the opposite is true! I wished that I could reverse the days I had spent away from school, at home crying and worried.
Sharing a better tomorrow
How I wish that all girls would get information about menstruation at the right time such that none of them would go through what I went through.
All the best to you, Helen
How making a difference in Kenya happens
Learn more information about how we tackle adolescent reproductive and sexual health topics in the CorStone Youth First Kenya program. Or you can see a short documentary on the Youth First Kenya program in action just by clicking the button below.