Girls living in a rural village in the Eastern Cape province won’t have to miss school when they get their periods thanks to donations from a United Methodist youth group.
About 50 girls and women from disadvantaged families in Notazana Village received sanitary pads and underwear that were collected during the United Methodist Youth Fellowship Annual Conference in September.
Eastern Cape is one of the provinces in South Africa with the highest unemployment rates, according to the South Africa Department of Statistics.
“Many girls from the informal settlements in Eastern Cape cannot afford to buy sanitary pads because of unemployment,” said Bulelwa Ndedwa, a deaconess and the conference’s youth director.
Zanele Godlimpi, a 16-year-old who lives in the village, said sanitary pads are expensive. “As girls, we think twice when we have money whether to buy pads or a loaf of bread to fill up our stomachs.
“(We) end up using the unhygienic methods to manage our menstruation cycle,” she said. “When I do not have money to buy sanitary pads, I tear and use my old clothes or soften pages of a newspaper. It is so embarrassing and uncomfortable.”
She said the issue causes many girls to miss school.
Ndedwa, who also is a life skills teacher at an underprivileged school in Eastern Cape, helped with the donation.
“I don’t like to see students not going to school because they don’t have sanitary pads,” she said.
She said the donation drive offers an important lesson to the church’s youth.
“The aim of this task is to teach and encourage our youth members about the importance of giving without expecting anything in return … and also to practice the Christian principles of giving of our Lord Jesus to people,” she said.
During the youth conference, every young person was asked to bring one or more packs of sanitary pads, while other members were encouraged to bring underwear.
“As Christians, it is important to lend a helping hand when needed, just like how Christ had done in the Bible to help the needy, because all that we have comes from God,” said 15-year-old Thuliswa Magingxi, one of the beneficiaries from Notazana Village.
“Sanitary pads are a big need to us here,” she said. “I am fortunate that I still have parents and they can buy me sanitary towels every time when needed, but it is so embarrassing to other children whose parents can’t afford to buy them. Some are orphans who are raised by their grandparents.”
Ezile Ndlaku, 21, president of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship from Makhukhanye District, said he is pleased that the program is helping girls with what they need in their daily lives.
“I am really overwhelmed with the initiative … This one-of-a-kind project has benefitted many homes during my quadrennial and it has been so successful. It is now clear that such initiatives have growth in our organization,” he said.
The group regularly assists the needy in its community, including orphans. They also raised money and collected donations for the Mozambique Episcopal Area following Cyclone Dineo in 2017.
Ndlaku said the group plans to collect donations for the girls and women in Notazana Village annually.
Nonyameko Khonza from the United Methodist Langeni pastoral charge in the area said she was happy to see young people helping other young people.
“It is our first time witnessing a good deed done by young people for our community in this village,” she said, “because children nowadays, are not concerned about other people especially if they are not related to them.
“Well done, people of The United Methodist Church. I wish the youth organization can grow and multiply in numbers so they could carry on doing this good job to other people with God’s help.”
Mkwalo is a communicator for the South Africa Conference.
News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.