Article By Ann, Big Sister
Menstruation is a natural occurrence experienced by nearly all women of reproductive age. The ability to manage menstrual health (MH) with adequate knowledge, safety, and dignity and without stigma is an essential human right.
Angela is a 17-year-old talented footballer and team leader of the Bafana girls’ football team at MYSA grounds located at Kimbo primary school in Githurai. I met her after one of our big sister sessions where she approached me worriedly and shared her fears, requesting help or guidance from me as a big sister. Angela was experiencing menses once in three months and during that period she never went for her field practice or even attend tournaments, she wasn’t sure of what would happen, scared of having mood swings during the practice, cramping, or even messing herself while at it. She never understood why this was happening after 3 months and was confused whether it was normal as most of her friends got their cycle monthly.
She never cared about asking her peers as she was afraid of being judged and stigmatized. Her parents had limited time with her because they go to work every single day. This made it difficult for her to pull up the conversation with them because of their busy schedules. Consulting a gynecologist was not an option as the services are considered very expensive and she couldn’t afford them.
As a big sister, I took her to a vendor who listened empathetically and answered her questions about her menstrual cycle and she was assured that the older she grows the more regular her cycle will be. After that, I took her through the menstrual hygiene management information including how to keep herself comfortable even when playing football. I believe that Angela is now informed and she’ll be more confident as she perfects and pursues her talent.