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technology 25 Nov 2019

12-year-old girl from South-West England walked 188 Km to fight period poverty in Kenya

By Waiswa Wafula

In an extraordinary feat, a 12-year-old girl has walked 188 kilometers in a fundraising effort to help fight period poverty in Kenya.

Annabel from Somerset in South-West England trained for months before starting her lap around the Somerset MendipRing walking through a rural loop around the country using public footpaths.

With an estimated target of Ksh. 597,940 before the trek, Annabel accompanied by her mother Emma Aitken raised Ksh. 870,626 and still counting after completing their six day walk on the 10th of April 2021.

“Annabel is doing amazingly well considering she is only 12 and we started training last October,” Emma told the BBC.

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The funds will go to St Peter’s LifeLine, a small grass-root charity that lifts the community out of poverty through its programs. The organization located in Kijuki, Tharaka Nithi County tackles period poverty and has purchased the necessary manufacturing material and equipment to produce 120,000 low/no cost sanitary pads initially to be prioritized to school girls.

The initiative also opens doors to the locals as women will be trained and employed to manufacture these sanitary towels. Aside from the fight against period poverty, St. Peter’s LifeLine also has an education program through partnership with the local St. Peter’s Primary School, feeding programs, preventing FGM, micro-finance for women, caring for the disabled, clean water and sanitation programs

Girls at St. Peters Primary School. PHOTO/COURTESY

According to She Will Survive, a gender equality charity, an estimated 50%-65% of girls lack access to proper menstrual sanitization in Kenya which has dire effects especially to school going kids.

The mother daughter duo explains their endeavor began when Annabel’s school was linked in a pen-pal arrangement with a school run by St. Peter’s LifeLine and she was able to learn about the challenges the girls face in Kajuki.

“How would you feel if your daughter or granddaughter was unable to go to school one week out of every four? Why? Because you or they could not afford to buy sanitary pads, would you be happy knowing that your neighbour was using leaves, old rags, or maybe nothing to cope with her periods?” says the fundraiser’s website page.

The Duo’s fundraiser website says the funds raised will be directed to the manufacture of an additional 120,000 sanitary pads at the organizations factory.

“So you can imagine how many we can now give to the girls,” Emma Aitken said.

UNESCO estimates 1 in every 10 girls in Kenya miss out on education since they cannot afford sanitary towels and fear facing the stigma around menstruation. This eventually leads to dropping out of school and other challenges such as early pregnancies.

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