We’re proud to say the launch of our Operation Sister Act program was an amazing success!
We went to a school that we had previously donated musical instruments to and visited in 2008. After a very long drive to this remote rural village in Sri Lanka we were greeted by their one and only doctor. She alone services 500 families – what a woman!
After some formal introductions we began our initial discussions and information gathering. Unfortunately discussions centred around menstruation, sexual abuse, birth control, etc are considered taboo (these sentiments are reflected right through the country and not just in this area). In fact the local doctor mentioned that because of embarrassment these topics are often skipped by some teachers though it is included in the school curriculum. Mothers often berate an abused child because of the stigma associated with abuse rather than seek counselling and medical help.
Initial discussions with the girls highlighted how very shy they were to talk and even more introverted when asked to answer certain questions. However after some warm up ice breaker games they revealed that they knew periods happen but were unsure as to why. The mother tends to be the main person informing them that they will get their period but she does not provide any other information. They are told when their period comes to keep clean, not mix with men and not to eat fried foods as this will attract the devil – seriously!
Raji our amazing interpreter did a wonderful job of helping me to ease the girls into being more open and sharing. We talked about what menstruation is and about the importance of hygiene practices, highlighted by a glitter ball game showing how easily germs are transferred.
The small group discussions along with our translated Sinhala sheets also helped them connect the dots.
We then gave the girls morning tea and finally presented them with their Operation Hope Freedom Kits. They were told that they are now our official ‘junior scientists’ and would need to road test the pads and keep records and feedback for our return in June.
They were pretty excited about this important job…