The WASHPlus initiative takes an integrated approach to build healthy communities from a holistic wellness viewpoint. Taking schools as the frontline battleground, we have begun WASHPlus in Schools project to educate and impact environmental and health curriculum, school sanitation and hygiene infrastructure needs, and, importantly, girls’ menstrual hygiene fitness. This holistic approach also attempts to build bridges with the community through its Community Learning Center laboratory, where community women leaders are exposed to a wide range of health and environment training modules (e.g., menstrual & hygiene cultural barriers, maternal health, indoor pollution, HPV Vaccination awareness, household waste management just to name a few).
HPV Vaccination Awareness
The PNMF organization is lending its support to the University of New Mexico’s research team (Nepal Study Center) to conduct their study on HPV vaccination. Targeting a select schools in the hill and the urban city of Siddharthanagar, the American Cancer Society supported research project hopes to understand the HPV awareness among various stakeholders such as: school girls, their mothers, school educators, and health professionals. The project will then offer effective interventions that can help enhance the education and awareness levels in the community.
The PNMHI college took steps to launch the WASHPlus in School program by setting up a change room for its female students. This Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program is significant given the fact that the college’s student population is 66% female, mostly representing the underrepresented segment of the society, both economically and ethnically.
WASHPlus in Schools: Reusable Menstrual Kits Distribution in Purkot School, Gulmi
During a Himalayan Study Abroad program trip to Nepal (December 2017/January 2018), the University of New Mexico student group teamed up with the PNMF organization to distribute 150 reusable menstruation kits to a high school (Shree Prithiwi) students in Purkot, Gulmi. The PNMF organization also arranged for a health professional to give them an hour of awareness training on menstruation hygiene. The awareness training was followed by a survey study. The study shows that the twenty percent of the school girls (10th-12th grade) miss school, 10 % face isolation during the menstruation cycle, and more than 20% do not have access to safe menstrual kits. After the event was concluded, mothers of the students inquired if they could be helped too, by asking “what about us?” Efforts are underway to help these mothers by involving them in the kits sewing entrepreneurship program.
Menstrual Hygiene Management Awareness: Women’s Health Camp in Siddharthanagar
The Pratiman-Neema Memorial Foundation (PNMF) in joint collaboration with Women2be, an Albuquerque based NGO, organized the two days event in Bhairahawa, Rupendehi district. The event was organized for raising awareness, delivering female hygiene kits to women and educating them on hygiene health. The main aim of the project was to provide access to facilities and products, provide hygiene promotion and awareness, and allow for maintenance of enabling environments to reduce infections and empower girls and women of the community. Leveraging the reality that there is lack of knowledge regarding female hygiene, the surveys were done to establish the information about female student’s and women hygiene practices, the amount of school and work they miss due to menstruation and on their willingness to pay for a female hygiene kits.Ms. Christine Glidden, a president of Women2be together with PNMF team members distributed around 500 hygiene kits to student’s of Pratiman-Neema Memorial Health Institute (PNMHI), Paglihawa High School and women of Chiliya VDC. The women hygiene kits contained underwear, washable reusable sanitary pads, zip lock bags and hand towel.The remarkable feedback and success of the project was highlighted on a press meet held on 13th May 2016 in Bhairahawa, Rupendehi district.