· Have you ever been at the doctor's office and been without access to a toilet?
· Have you ever had to worry about contracting a hygiene-related illness simply by using the bathroom?
· Have you gone to the pharmacy and been overwhelmed by the unpleasant smell of a bathroom?
· Can you imagine being a person living with a disability and having to squat in order to relieve yourself without any way to support yourself?
· Did you ever feel like you couldn’t go to school because you didn’t have feminine hygiene products? Or because you were afraid boys would shame you?
For patients at the Muhondo Health Center in Rwanda, this is the reality. There are only four public latrines available for use and they have been around for around 20 years. The smell from these latrines is so overwhelming that it assaults the senses from almost every office and corner of the health center. Staff hear complaints about these latrines almost daily, but don't have access to the funds to fix the situation.
Most of you know that my daughter Aimee was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda, Africa. She worked with the health center in her village of Muhondo and even though she has changed locations and assignments, she is still passionate about helping this place that was her home for two years.
In order to provide better services to their patients and encourage good hygiene practices, Aimee's Health Center is hoping to build a new set of latrines to replace the current ones. They have asked Aimee to help them raise funds, but she has run into multiple fundraising roadblocks in Rwanda, so I am asking for help on her behalf.
The Muhondo Health Center will build new pit latrines to include two stalls for women, a stall for men, a urinal, and a special stall for people living with disabilities. In addition, new hand-washing stations would be installed with dustbins for waste to be placed near these stations.
The health center staff also plans to train girls and young women about proper menstrual hygiene. These women will be trained in the proper ways to care for their bodies during their cycle as well as how to make their own reusable menstrual pads. Currently many young women are out of school several days per month due to their cycle.
Ideally the training series will result in the creation of a cooperative of youth from the community who can make and sell these pads to women and students in the area. These young women will be taught how to co-facilitate lessons about menstrual hygiene in order to teach lessons to the students at the nearby secondary school. They hope to instill a sense of leadership in these young women, to demonstrate the abilities of women, even those who may not have been able to finish school, and to reduce stigma that may surround the menstrual cycle.
To support this cooperative and their work, the health center will also build a room for the women to use. This room will provide dedicated space for the cooperative to make and sell the reusable menstrual pads and to hold meetings. There will also be an area that will be used as a menstrual room, modeled after the Girls’ Rooms the Rwandan Government is implementing at secondary schools. This room will be stocked with reusable pads, soap, water, a basin, and a bed for resting and will be available for any patients on their cycle.
The latrines are estimated to take around one month to construct and the reusable menstrual pad trainings can be held over a month and a half. Health center staff and the technician are prepared to begin this project as soon as the money is raised and have set up a plan to keep this going even though Aimee has moved out of Muhondo. The staff has an incredible amount of motivation for this project and would be beyond grateful for any support you're able to give. Please consider giving to this incredible and much needed project! Thank you for your support.
- Dan and Linda Rietz
- Kathryn Peterson
- Joy Hayes
- Debby Gabris
- Steve Armbrust
Organizer and beneficiary
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