I am Theresia Stephen, the first born of four and the only girl child in my family. I work for AfricAid as a Binti Shupavu Mentor. I became associated with the organization when I was in my Junior year of high school through AfricAid’s Kisa Project. So, I am a Binti Shupavu Mentor who is also a proud Kisa Alumna.
I have been a Binti Shupavu Mentor for almost two years now. My experience mentoring the Binti Scholars has been incredible. It is not an exaggeration to say that mentoring girls can be a weapon against poverty and a tool in shaping the lives of young female leaders who will eventually transform their entire communities.
As I sit to write this blog, I am excited to share the lesson that is my favorite to teach from the Binti Shupavu Curriculum. It is the unit on the “Menstrual Cycle.” I would be remiss if I did not mention that the topics from the Binti Curriculum are all so interesting and reflective and they all carry powerful lessons that help improve the lives of these young ladies. However, the Menstrual Cycle has become my favorite not only because I am a woman, but because the subject matter helps these young women to understand themselves, especially during puberty.
The onset of puberty and menstruation keeps many girls out of school around the world. Age 12 is a watershed moment when girls begin to drop out for this very reason. An overall objective of the Binti Shupavu program is to address and overcome the barriers that keep Tanzanian girls from completing their education. Thus, a lesson about menstruation is a key component of the Curriculum.
This lesson teaches the girls this key information:
- What is the menstruation cycle,
- Why and how menstruation happens,
- What to do while menstruating,
- What products they can use while menstruating.
Most importantly, this lesson also gives these girls a chance to ask questions about menstruation that they feel they cannot ask anyone else. Not every parent here in Tanzania sits with their girls to tell them what happens within their bodies during puberty. The culture of many tribes here forbids the parents to talk to their girls about menstruation. Therefore, it is during Binti Shupavu class that they get to hear all that they need to know about menstruation.
Sophia, a Binti Shupavu Scholar from Mateves Secondary School said, “The menstrual cycle lesson has helped me to understand about when my periods are going to start and which products I have to use. It has helped me to know that I have to be prepared all the time by carrying a pad and an extra under pant in case my period starts while in class or school.”
Another Binti Scholar from Irikisongo Secondary School, Maureen, said, “Learning about the menstrual cycle has helped me to understand about what to do when I experience menstrual cramps.”
Teaching about the menstrual cycle has helped me to become a friend to these Scholars. It has made the Binti Shupavu girls open to me as I am always there to answer their questions and make them feel safe around me. I really enjoy spending time with these girls both inside and outside of Binti Shupavu classes. They give me so much joy.
AfricAid mentors secondary school girls in Tanzania to complete their education, develop into confident leaders, and transform their own lives and their communities. Binti Shupavu is a four-year life skills course offered by AfricAid to lower secondary school girls covering topics such as study skills, personal leadership, health and self-confidence with the goal of increasing graduation rates for vulnerable girls.
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