On the 3rd and 4th of December 2020 the Lotus Project started working with Chikanga School, some 36 km outside of Blantyre in Malawi. The school is in a rural area and has a total of 500 boys and girls of all ages from 5 years upwards.
On the first day mothers were trained to make Lotus pads and bags by hand and the teachers were briefed about the whole project.
On the second day Elizabeth Mtemba reports: "We have done both Menstrual Health Management training for boys, girls, then both afterwards and we distributed 76 packs to girls of puberty age. It seems there are a large number of early marriages and drop-outs from school due to COVID 19 pandemic (closure of schools) so less girls than we had been expecting. We are having challenges relating to figures given by headmasters during assessment process, yet when it comes to distribution the figures are lower. Luckily we were accompanied by a Mrs Makawa, a School Inspector in that area. She assisted us very much as she had to verify the figures through the register."
The Menstrual Health Management training consists of a short session for boys, a longer in depth session for girls and then a short session with boys and girls together. The Lotus Packs consist of 4 reusable sanitary pads, 2 pairs of panties, soap, salt, a small waterproof bag and an information leaflet all in a drawstring bag made from African cotton.
There is a big issue in Malawi of girls not returning to schools once they reopened after the COVID-19 closure. Early marriages and pregnacies are two reasons. School attendance is not compulsory in Malawi and record keeping and follow up of non-attending students is very limited.