Posted by Alan Fox, Eganville
Rotary Club Of Eganville Charitable Trust Project Report
We have been fundraising for the last year and have received support from the Rotary Clubs of Chesterville, Gananoque, Kingston, Montreal Lakeshore, Cataraqui-Kingston, West Ottawa, Pembroke and North Renfrew as well as The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Fellowship of the Least Coin (the World Council of Churches).  Donations have also been received from many individuals who support this project.  Thank You! Alan and Mona Fox
The objective of the project is to challenge the stigma surrounding discussion of menstruation and to make an investment in the alleviation of poverty.    Students at Siloam Education Centre in Nairobi are learning about the role of menstruation in the biology of human reproduction.  Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) workshops will also address the practical aspects of managing the monthly period hygienically.  Menstrual Kits will be handed out to all female students.  The Kit contains a holder and three reusable sanitary pads, as well as a bar of soap, a washcloth and a pair of panties, all in a draw string bag.
Following community consultations in April 2019, we broadened the scope of the project. We are now planning an empowerment initiative for both the boys and girls.  We will complete our initial goal of introducing menstrual training to all the girls at Siloam Kware school.  The boys will then discuss the attributes of positive manhood and what it means to be a man these days. Then, both boys and girls will learn Life Skills to help them find work, survive and prosper in this increasingly complex world.
Evaluation is built into the project as all girls complete a survey questionnaire before attending the menstruation workshop.  Then they will complete another survey form at least two months later to see what they have learned and how their attitudes may have changed.
Preliminary results indicate the importance of students being able to talk to their teachers about issues related to menstruation.  Before the workshop, 85% of girls felt unclean, were lacking in confidence and unhappy about themselves when they had their period.  After the workshop, they felt confident to ask advice from teachers and community health workers on questions regarding their experience with menstruation.  
We had planned to hold the Empowerment Workshops this spring but that is no longer possible.  We hope the government restrictions will be lifted shortly and that we will be able to hold the planned workshops later in the year.
For further information on either the Imara Healthcare Centre or the Siloam Education Centre, please check
Nurse Kate teaching about hygiene and the use of menstrual cups
Dorcus teaching about hygiene and the use of sanitary pads
Students show off their Menstrual Kit Bags
This project has been in development since the spring 2019 when a grant from the Women’s Inter Church Council of Canada (WICC) enabled a Rotary research and training team in Nairobi, Kenya to lay the groundwork for a project at Siloam School.  The focus of the project was on an evaluation of the impact of the start of menstruation on the confidence of female students and their educational achievement.
The dual objectives of the WICC study were to:
  • Introduce Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) at Siloam School in Mukuru, Nairobi
  • Provide all female students at the school with access to sanitary wear.
The taboo about discussing menstruation has consequences.  One is that many girls have little or no knowledge about this important bodily function.  In one survey of attitudes about menstruation, 80% of girls of pre-menstrual age thought it was an abnormality or disease and 15% had no knowledge of the menstrual cycle at all.
By staying home during their monthly cycle, girls can miss up to 20% of their education.  A Gates Foundation report concluded that girls trade sex for pads, which exposes the girl to the risk of pregnancy, HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Responses to a student evaluation survey indicate that many girls feel unclean while having their period.  This sense of low self-esteem and feeling of unworthiness leads in time to a general lack of confidence.  The menstruation taboo is deeply entrenched in the culture and education and communication are needed to enable women and girls to achieve their full potential.
Before holding workshops for students, it was important to ensure the school management, the Board of Trustees and the teachers at the school supported the project and found the workshop content acceptable.  We held two workshops in March and June 2019 with these groups.  For the Imara Community Health Workers (CHWs) it was an opportunity to fine tune their presentations.  Importantly, the workshops were also intended to ensure that the adults at the school are familiar with what is being taught so that they can answer any questions that the students may ask after the workshop is over. 
A new toilet block was built during the Easter 2019 holidays with financial support from a partnership between Siloam School and the Rotary Clubs of Eganville, Arnprior and West Ottawa.  It contains five toilets for girls and four toilets and a urinal for boys, all connected to the municipal sewage system.  It also contains a Girls’ Changing Room.  Space for a Girls’ Room was a pre-requisite for introducing MHM at Siloam School.
On September 26th, 2019, Eganville Rotary Charitable Trust approved an expenditure of $7,694 CAD to accomplish four goals:
  • Hold menstruation workshops for all 425+ girls at Siloam School
  • Plan a workshop for boys on Positive Manhood
  • Plan a workshop for boys and girls on Life Skills
  • Investigate programs addressing slum sexual Violence
Some 300 girls have attended ten MHM workshops so far in the last year. Prior to that four other workshops were held: two with teachers from the school and the board of trustees and the Imara health workers and, two for 80 girls.   Each girl attending these workshops has taken home a Menstrual Kit and an increased awareness of how to manage her monthly cycle.  Forty of those girls completed the second evaluation survey questionnaire.
We expect the Menstrual Kits will provoke conversation about menstruation between mother and daughter and may help to demystify the topic.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ACCESS TO SANITARY WEAR:
The student survey indicates that the lack of access to sanitary wear is a major impediment to girls attending school while they have their period.
To address this concern, girls will be given a Menstrual Kit bag containing a holder, three reusable pads, a bar of soap, a pair of panties and a washcloth, all in a drawstring bag. These washable pads have been made by Canadian volunteers, and Dorcas Nzuki, one of the Imara CHWs.  In addition, a Singer sewing machine has been purchased for the school and one of the parents has volunteered to teach students how to make their own sanitary wear.  We will also investigate the possibility of the Imara Community Health Workers having a role in making reusable pads.
Older girls in the graduating classes will be offered menstrual cups, however, the parents must approve their daughter’s choice. While more expensive, they are made of high-grade medical plastic and last over 10 years, while the reusable pads only last two or three years.  At two recent workshops for graduates from Siloam School, 45 girls chose cups while only 15 chose reusable pads.
Our consultations indicated a need to address the socialization of boys as their attitudes and behavior have a major impact on girls and vice-versa.  The path to manhood presents its own challenges as boys encounter physical, hormonal and emotional changes as they pass through puberty.
Our team leader, Scholastica Mwaka, in collaboration with public registered nurse Kate Lisike have developed a workshop on what it means to be a man in this day and age.  It addresses dating and sexual relations and explores the meaning of consent.  It would also encourage mutual respect between boys and girls. This would include not teasing the girls about their monthly period.
Our consultations recommended that both boys and girls receive training in Life Skills.  Scholastica has worked with Nurse Kate on the development of a workshop session that would address issues like money management, nutrition and goal setting.
It was planned to launch the workshops on Positive Manhood and Life Skills in May 2020.  That is no longer possible, and we are hoping that we can run these workshops in the late fall 2020.
A study has concluded that one in three girls experience sexual violence by the time they reach the age of 18.  Our research team will be looking into this issue and will make recommendations on how to avoid unwanted sexual encounters or, if they occur, how the victim will be helped to overcome the trauma.
Possible partners include Ujamaa Kenya which uses play acting as an educational tool and the Wangu Kanja Foundation which has developed a 20,000-member survivor’s network.
If the pandemic crisis subsides in the Fall, we will continue with the evaluation workshops.  We have sufficient funds to run these evaluation workshops but will need additional support to hold the Positive Manhood and Life Skills workshops. 
We appeal to you, our donors, to support this initiative to empower slum youth to make a better life for themselves.                               
If you would like to support this project, please send your cheque to:
The Treasurer, Rotary Club of Eganville
P.O. Box 788
Eganville, ON
K0J 1T0 Canada
Please make your cheque payable to Eganville Rotary and write ‘Siloam Fund’ on the memo line of the cheque. Alternatively, you can donate on line by following the links at:   We issue official Charitable Receipts to Canadian citizens.
Alan Fox - Project Director
Mona Fox - Coordinator of Volunteer Service
Scholastica Mwaka - Team Leader
Dorcas Nduku - Researcher/ Trainer
Dorothy Wanjiro - Researcher/ Trainer
Francis Musili - Researcher/ Trainer
Meshack Ongori - Researcher/ Trainer
Mirriam Mamba - Researcher/ Trainer
The Rotary Club of Eganville has been supporting activities in Mukuru since 2011 when it provided funds to expand and refurbish the Imara Healthcare Centre, which was in financial difficulty.  Since then the Centre has been accredited by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), has trained Community Health Workers and more recently, with Rotary support, has opened the only Operating Theatre in the Mukuru slum.  It has become a Referral Centre for other private and public clinics in Mukuru.
Alan & Mona Fox
International Service Coordinator
Rotary Club of Eganville
Ontario, Canada