June 10, 2016
Written by Plan International
This post originally appeared on Plan International’s website. Reposted with permission.
It is quiet in the classroom. Everybody is paying close attention to what the teacher is writing on the chalkboard. Today, the English lesson is about parse trees. Then all of a sudden there is a commotion. A couple of boys start laughing loudly, pointing at a girl. Soon, more of the children in the class start giggling. The girl cowers in shame. She just got her period and her green uniform has a red stain. She quickly runs out of the class, followed by one of her friends.
Not long ago, this is exactly how it went in Samuel and Aleu’s class – until they joined a Plan International Health Club.
“I must admit that I used to laugh along when this happened to a girl,” said 15-year-old Aleu. “But at the time I didn’t know what was going on. Now I know better. At the Health Club I learned that it is perfectly normal for a girl to start her period at a certain age. It’s very annoying for her because it also hurts in her stomach.”
Many children in Uganda – both boys and girls – have little knowledge about their own bodies. Girls do not know what is happening to them when they get their period. The first time it happens many think they are ill or even dying. They do not know how to protect themselves. Accidents in the classroom are not uncommon. The result: being laughed at. The children who are laughing have no idea what is going on either. They just think it’s weird.