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No more sex for pads

Georgina Obiero and a friend, Faith Kagendo teamed up to start an organisation that offers girls free sanitary towels and modelling classes to keep them away from bad behaviour

Grace Wachira @yaa_grace

Georgina Nehema Obiero knows all too well what it feels like staying home during menses for lack of sanitary towels. “There was a time in our family when everything was gloomy and we could not afford sanitary towels.

It was tough not having Sh50 to buy a packet and as such, I made a vow to myself that I would one day help girls who need the towels,” she says.

When she grew up Obiero went into fashion and modelling where she meet Faith Kagendo, Miss Isiolo county and they started Nefa (first two letters of their names) to reach out to girls who did not have access to sanitary towels.

Obiero was at the time a fashion coach at African Hut, a modelling agency and they met when she was presenting models at a county level. “Faith told me about a blind 15-year-old girl from her county who was forced into early marriage.

The young girl has since become a mother. She was married off to allegedly recoup the expenses incurred raising a girl,” says Obiero, a Conflict and Peace and Psychology student at University of Nairobi. Nefa was then birthed to help young girls facing a similar predicament.

“This year, we decided to start helping out girls. I noticed when I visited a school to offer modelling lessons, girls were not consistent and missed many classes when they were in their periods,” she says.

Faith who lives in in Isiolo also witnessed firsthand how girls literally had to work for money to buy sanitary towels. Some even offered sex in exchange for basic commodities. So far, the duo, along with some friends has touched the lives of over 900 girls.

“We have visited around 10 schools –eight within Nairobi and two in other counties. Teachers are receptive when we visit,” the 23-year-old asserts.

They give the girls stationary and sanitary towels. As much as they have the heart to learn, the girls sometimes just want to stay at home as opposed to coming to school.

“It is what they are accustomed to; staying home when on their period. When we get down to business, they come up with all these other issues that they go through,” Obiero says. Food is a rare commodity.

“It’s really tough to hear them tell us what they go through just to make ends meet. They confess that they sometimes have sex with men just to get money for food. It breaks my heart every time,” she says. Seeing the girls’ faces light up after they help them keeps the models going.

“Our modelling is with purpose. We want the girls to go to school and making a name for themselves. In future, we hope to get recyclable pads. That way, we can help them in the long term. Women who are stuck in hospitals are also a target we have in mind,” she says.

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