colourful butterfly by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

Menstruation Gets A Little Easier

Listen to this article:

Listen to this article:

A small group from our UK team were finally able to perform a monitoring and evaluation visit to Kenya during December 2022. It was the first one since the COVID lockdowns bit us all.

We always strive to pack a few items for our Kenyan colleagues and beneficiaries that are hard or near to impossible to purchase over there. This year, these included menstrual cups packed in small plastic protective cases, bought specifically for the Mothers of the Forest. The cups are made from medical grade silicone and they negate the need for any sanitary pads or tampons, ideal when you live in rural Kenya. 

The cups will work well for over a decade, they don’t require anything other than for the collected blood to be tipped away and the cup washed clean before reinsertion and critically, they reduce pollution and health problems for humans and wildlife, massively.

Here’s an account of how one of these hedhi {Kiswahili for menstruation) cups changed the life of a young girl from a tree planting community in Boré, as told to and recounted by Eva Jefwa.

“Neema is 14 years old, a class 8 pupil at Kadunguni Primary School, Marafa Ward, Magarini Sub-County. She walks 6 km to and from school everyday; it’s a long walk. Her monthly periods are not kind to her during this time as she has a pretty heavy flow.

Nevertheless, life must go on and she knows she must continue to go to school as usual, no matter how harsh conditions may prove to be. Her time of the month was the time she used to dread the most but not any more.

One of the things that hurt the most was the friction in between her thighs from the heat caused by the pad she was using. It was frequently so bad that by the third day of her period, she couldn’t walk to school. 

Another common occurrence that made her miss school during her period was the unavailability of sanitary towels. Most of the time Neema’s mother could not afford to buy the disposable sanitary towels, so Neema used old rags to stem her bleed. These always leaked and caused her even greater problems.

In December 2023, Neema’s mother Agnes – one of the Garashi Mothers of the Forest – had a presentation on menstrual care by the founder of the group, Tracey West. Agnes called me aside afterwards and asked me if the cups were safe to be used by young girls. Some of the mothers were saying that if used by a virgin, the cup could break the girl’s virginity.

I didn’t have an answer for her right there and then so I asked her to give me time to find out. After some research, I found out that the cups do not break virginity and I called for a meeting with the rest of the Mothers to explain my findings.

After Agnes gave Neema her hedhi cup, Neema’s life changed for the better in many ways. Her periods go on for 5 to 6 days and she is grateful that she doesn’t have severe cramps. Neema told me, “The cup was a little uncomfortable at first until I got used to using it. I was scared it might drop out in public but that has never happened, it couldn’t happen, my body holds it safely inside. All I need to do is to carry a small bottle of water with me and I can run to a bush, drain my cup, rinse it with some little water and continue with whatever it is I’m doing.

The hedhi cup is a blessing, because now I do not need to worry about friction and best of all, my mother can concentrate on using our money to buy food. Disposable sanitary towels are really expensive too. For each period my mum would have spent not less than 300 Kenyan Shillings (£2).

Disposing the pads was another headache because those things do not rot down and they pollute the environment. Our school does not have a toilet, so when you go to the nearby bushes, you see lots and lots of used pads thrown there. It’s unhealthy for us and also wildlife too.

I would really appreciate it if Tracey could send some for my friends, so that they too can live without worrying about their next period, like me.

Thank you everyone at Word Forest for making my life so much easier. I have been very happy to plant several trees to express my gratitude.”

Word Forest is way more than a reforestation charity. We truly care about creating social good across Kenya and throughout the world. A simple gift like an inexpensive hedhi cup can change lives in countless ways! The women in our communities will always be happy to plant trees on their shambas to show their appreciation for your donations. Bless you all.”

Eva Jefwa and the Kenyan Team

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here. Thank you!

Subscribe to our blog

Want to stay right up-to-date with what’s happening? We can notify you by email when we post a new article or let you know which articles we’ve published at the end of the week. What to expect: If you wish to withdraw your consent and stop hearing from us, simply click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email we send, or contact us at [email protected]. We value and respect your personal data and privacy. To view our privacy policy, please click here. By submitting this form, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

Daily Weekly

Marketing permission: I give my consent to to be in touch with me via email using the information I have provided in this form for the purpose of news, updates and marketing.

Skip to content