Days for Girls in West Timor, Indonesia “Hi Girls, You are Lovable and Precious!”

Hi Girls, my name is Sarah. I am a new member of staff at Yayasan Balita Sehat Indonesia. I had been working at YBS for a month when I was asked to accompany my Programme Manager, Ms. Helga Dyathen on a trip to West Timor. One of the activities I observed was the training of ‘Days For Girls’ programme, where we also delivered washable menstruation pads to 100 girls in Junior High School at Nunleu Village, Amanatus Selatan Sub-District, Timor Tengah Selatan Regency, West Timor. I was very impressed by this project.

Before we began the training course, a briefing of all the trainers was conducted on 6th April 2018. The Trainers of ‘Days for Girls’ consisted of Ms. Afriana Sakan, A.Md.Kep (Nurse at Nunleu Village); Delsi Missa, A.Md. Keb (Midwife of Nunleu Village); Marsalena Selan, AMG (Nutritionist of YBS Timor) and me all prepared some items for training – headed up by Ms. Helga Dyah.

By 11am on 7th April 2018 we had started the journey to Nunleu Junior High School, which was 15 KM away. Travelling was very bad as there were potholes and rocks on the road. On several occasions, the DfG Kits we tied on the roof of the car fell into the road because the steep and rocky roads made the straps loose. Fortunately, some people saw and told us that our belongings fell into the street.

We arrived at 1 PM. The teachers welcomed us and we joined them in their teacher’s room. MrYosafatNatonis, S Pd as a representative of the Headmaster, opened the welcome meeting: “We are very happy and excited to be the school selected to run the ‘Days for Girls’ project. Our girls need knowledge on Reproductive Health and Puberty because here, many girls become pregnant and marry young. We do hope through this project, we can reduce the numbers of early pregnancies,” he said.

After the meeting with teachers finished, we moved to start the ‘Days for Girls’ training to 100 girls. Ms Afri and Ms Delsi explained about the ‘Days for Girls’ project, reproductive health, puberty, menstruation and gender equality using the DfG’s Flipchart.

We saw the reactions in the girl’s faces when we asked them about puberty and menstruation. Some looked shyly down with small smiles, lots were laughing with their friend next to them, and some were keen to ask question to the trainers. Most of the girls had experienced  menstruation.

Then, at the end of training, we explained about the DfG Kits. Before talking about the kits we asked them whether they used washable pads or disposable pads when menstruating. Most of the girls reported they were using disposable pads sold in the market. They reported they only changed their pads twice a day, even when they menstruated a lot during the day. We explained the consequences of not changing disposable pads enough. We compared disposable pads with DfG pads.  We poured water on both pads and the ‘Days For Girls’ pads had better absorption. We also dissected some disposable pads, and it turned out that they were filled with materials such as recycled paper which, if used for a long time, is more susceptible to irritation. Then, we explained how to use and clean DfG pads. We then handed out DfG days kits and instructions on how to use them.

After the training, we divided the group of 100 girls into 3 groups and held group and individual surveys. There were 2 trainers in each group.