After Project Penya raised five times more funds than anticipated, it not only allowed for the inclusion of twice the number of girls in the Subz program but also enabled us to support the school and host our first 3-day life-skills workshop. Local facilitators, school staff, a social worker, Elephant’s Eye staff, and parents joined forces to contribute on matters of leadership, communication, teamwork, conflict management, child abuse, drug addiction, and to demystify monthly menstruation. Our Hideaways Reservationist, Mo, attended the workshop and shared her experience with us here…
“We arrived at about 08h30, the grade 6 and 7 boys and girls were all in one classroom busy with the facilitators being trained on self-awareness, effective communication, assertiveness, goal setting, problem-solving, conflict management, stress management, negotiation skills, teamwork, leadership, and decision-making skills. This was followed by Cathy (from the lodge) chatting with the students about education and the importance of staying in school and not losing hope. Specifically outlining that there are many opportunities for them even around Hwange, such as working in tourism and hospitality. Then the kids took a few minutes break while we set up for the Subz handover and the learners were then split into girls in one classroom and boys in the other. I stayed with the girls.
The girls were joined by their mothers, we had quite a nice turn out (of mothers) considering all the factors (they have to walk, have other kids to take care of, the possible rain as it had been raining every day etc.). A local social worker, named Smanga, was then introduced by Cathy, to give the girls and their moms a talk regarding abuse, in all its forms, sexual, mental, and physical. She was excellent and really got the mothers and teachers to participate. It started out a bit slowly as everyone was getting a bit uncomfortable and the kids were a bit shy in front of their mothers, however, she did a great job of making everyone feel comfortable.
This was then followed by a talk and demonstration by Kuda, one of the facilitators who was running the earlier life skills session – she put on an apron that had the female reproductive organs clearly marked, much to the amusement of the students. The talk from Kuda was on puberty and personal hygiene which also gave the girls lot of insight about how they change during this stage and therefore the need to take care of their bodies and not indulge in risky behaviour. She then proceeded to explain the Subz pads to everyone including the mothers and teachers so they all knew what to expect.
At the end of the talks, Katja and I handed out the pads and hats to all the girls, which was really humbling to see these girls and their moms so excited over items we take for granted. Being part of a moment that made such a difference for the girls, the mothers and the school teachers (as they have to deal with many of the problems the girls face) was quite emotional.”
It was a wonderful culmination of a year’s worth of fundraising and awareness driving. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our partners and the generous donations from Elephant’s Eye, Hwange guests.
Project Penya is an ongoing project that will continue with the rest of the girls from Dingani Primary School. On the cards for the future is looking into sustainable, local ways of providing the reusable pads and panties. If you would still like to donate or get involved please contact email@example.com.