The schools in Malawi have now reopened initially for the highest groups who were taking their exams at the end of September which were delayed from June. Then gradually the remaining students will return.
Chisombezi school is a large rural primary school outside of Blantyre, it has over 3,100 students and 37 teachers. We were asked at the start of the year to provide Lotus Packs for 825 girls at and toilet and changing room facitlites for them. The Chanasa groups have made the packs and the first group of 100 girls received their packs and training before the school all closed in March. The Mothers group also received training in how to make pads and materials and equipment to enable them to continue to make pads. During the time the schools have been shut the Chanasa groups have continued to make packs and now they are all ready. The contractor aslo built the toilet and changing room block during this time.
The toilet and changing room block was officially opened on 18 September 2020 it contains 4 toilets including one for disabled girls and 2 changing rooms. The official opening took place with a ceremony attended by the head teacher, members of staff, the District Education Officer, representatives of the trustees and women of Chanasa, the contractors who designed and built the block as well as some schoolgirls.
A week later on 25 September 2020 the training and distrubution of packs to the girls began again. 76 girls received training in Menstrual Health Management and their Lotus Packs. The training was carried out by the group leaders from Chanasa. The Lotus Packs contain 4 washable sanitary pads, 2 pairs of panties, soap, salt, a flannel and a small waterproof bag, all in a African fabric drawstring bag. There are now about 700 more girls to receive training and packs!
The head teacher said: 'One week after the breathtaking ceremony of change room handover Elizabeth came yet again and conducted a training in menstruation sanitation management to the Standard 8 girl learners before they sit for their final National Exams next week. After the training the Chifundo Chanasa team distributed the reusable pads to the girls amid the songs of jubilation from Chisombezi schoolgirls.'