Visual arts have been an important source of expressing feelings and emotions for ages and when the artist starts telling the story in colors, it does not have an end.
AGAHE in partnership with WaterAid in Pakistan is implementing a project around menstrual hygiene management in which a large number of adolescent girls (in-school and out of school), community women and teachers have been reached ensuring facilities of safe drinking water, girls friendly toilets and construction/rehabilitation of water supply schemes in these schools. These girls have also been reached in order to ensure that malpractices around menstruation and reproductive health may be eliminated for a better future.
Rashna, Sadia & Iqra were the students of 7th, 8th&9th class respectively from three different schools of district Muzaffargarh.The girls were fond of drawing and participating in school competitions. The girls attended personal hygiene and MHM sessions in their schools and were a part of PRA exercises too. Being a part of the activity like PRA further enhanced their understanding regarding cultural issues and misinterpretations around menstruation and healthy practices like taking bath, playing and attending schools actively.
The construction of girls’ friendly toilets further envisioned them regarding their health rights. Follow up sessions from AGAHE social mobilization team were also conducted during the same span after construction of girls’ friendly toilets to ensure that the girls know how to use the sanitation facilities provided at school level. AGAHEcelebrated International Menstrual Hygiene (MH) day at district Muzaffargarh under MHM Project, where MHM Support groups from all schools & focal teachers were invited to take part and share their views.
Rashna, Sadia & Iqra presented their picture stories at the end of the painting competition.
The drawings were based on the whole intervention implemented to date at school and community level depicting their interest and keenness about the whole project and intervention implemented on ground.
Rashna said, I never knew anything like girls’ friendly toilets but AGAHE made it possible for us to use exclusive facility which is also for our friends who are disabled and need help. This facility at school with sanitary materials in it provides confidence to manage menstruation with dignity”
Iqra said that: “I always considered menstruation as a disease andI used to quit schooling for these days which had bad effects on my overall result but I recently got to know that this is not a disease rather a natural process which is a sign of healthy system. This did not only change my perspective around these days but also give me confidence of being healthy.”
Sadiasaid that: “I did not know anything about MHM earlier. The only thing I knew was told by my mother to treat this time as special for eating and drinking habits. I came to know through awareness raising sessions that the cultural myths around menstruation have no groundings but assumptions which can be catered through adopting healthy practices”
All three artists said,“We are very much thankful to AGAHE for changing our perspective about MHM by providing platform to express our own perspective after when we have learnt many things around MHM from these awareness raising sessions and trainings. We believe that we will spend a healthier and confident life if we start practicing good things at this stage and take this time as a matter of routine”