San­i­tary towel drive to help girls

Wo­man’s or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cuses on ru­ral ar­eas

Go! & Express - - Go! People - THAN­DEKA NTLONTI

A PROUDLY South African or­gan­i­sa­tion, owned by Ba­balwa Mbuku, 38, is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of pupils in town­ships and vil­lages of the East­ern Cape.

MIA East­ern Cape is a lo­cal 100% blacked-owned and man­aged com­pany that dis­trib­utes san­i­tary tow­els to school chil­dren.

Through an­other ini­tia­tive that Mthatha-born Mbuku, es­tab­lished – Op­er­a­tion feed A Child – reach­ing out to im­pov­er­ished and needy com­mu­ni­ties, the 38-year-old got to ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand how young girls suf­fer and miss out on im­por­tant school­ing when they are men­stru­at­ing

“MIA saw the plight of many women, es­pe­cially young girls who are forced to stay at home when they are in their men­strual cy­cle be­cause they don not have the nec­es­sary items they need. The un­healthy ma­te­rial that women use, [in ru­ral ar­eas] leads to in­fec­tions and other se­ri­ous ill­nesses such as can­cer, there­fore as MIA we de­cided to in­ter­vene,” Mbuku said.

Apart from dis­tri­bu­tion, MIA’s qual­ity ser­vices in­clude train­ing work­shops for girl pupils to as­sist them in con­fi­dence-build­ing as well as em­brac­ing their wom­an­hood. MIA East­ern Cape works in part­ner­ship with the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to im­prove the con­di­tions of san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties in the town­ships and vil­lage schools. The part­ner­ship also makes pro­vi­sion of SHE BINS for dis­posal as well as waste man­age­ment dis­posal and re­cy­cling to en­sure a clean and healthy en­vi­ron­ment.

“I work with ev­ery­one who shares the bur­den of keep­ing a girl child at school dur­ing the men­strual cy­cle pe­riod. I have been re­ceiv­ing orders from so­cial ac­tivists who see the plight of chil­dren suf­fer­ing in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

Mbuku said she hopes to work to­gether with the govern­ment in pro­vid­ing a con­clu­sive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment at schools. “Just like it is im­por­tant for Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to pro­vide food for un­der­priv­i­leged learn­ers, the Depart­ment of Health should pro­vide health­care ser­vices at schools and look at the is­sue of keep­ing girl learn­ers at school dur­ing their pe­ri­ods,” she said.

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

REACH­ING OUT: Ba­balwa Mbuku, founder and owner of MIA East­ern Cape which pro­vides san­i­tary tow­els to un­der­priv­i­leged girls in ru­ral ar­eas

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