“I remember this one time when I found blood on my shirt. I ran back home crying from school to immediately tell my mother. She looked scared too but all she did was instruct me to go check my knickers to confirm whether there was blood. I complied but in my mind I was wondering how those two would be related. I checked and there was nothing. When I told her and asked why she made me check, she told me I probably got the blood from someone else. “One day you will see blood flowing so you shouldn’t be scared of blood.” So I spent the rest of my days waiting for blood to flow not knowing where from but mostly from my breasts to my knickers.
When I finally had my period, I couldn’t even tell anybody, I couldn’t talk to my mother because I had never heard her talk about anything like that. I couldn’t even talk to my friends because my best friend was a boy. I had never heard of pads so I just used old clothes and bed sheets. What made even harder was the pain and doing house work. On the third day I couldn’t take it anymore. I was wondering why it wasn’t stopping so I told my sister who explained it to me and it helped a lot. After that we kept our secret.
One time I was chased from home to go and bring test results from the health centre by my parents because they thought I was showing signs of pregnancy just because I told them my tummy was hurting. We were three people in the house and I remember for two weeks there was no conversation between us and nothing I did was right for them. My younger sister hid in a pit latrine for some hours one day because she too had been accused of being pregnant. All this was because it was taboo to talk about your period.
After learning and understanding menstruation with Irise, all I wanted to do was to let people know that it is something to be proud of not to be ashamed, it is not a curse, its means you are a healthy young woman and there are many things you can do to be comfortable during your period. If we knew the truth then, we wouldn’t have gone through all that. I wanted to teach as much as I could to make sure young girls don’t go through what I went through. Many girls asked the same questions I had when I was growing up and it gave me so much satisfaction to watch them get education about their bodies.”