A simple, spectacularly successful, life- (and potentially world-) changing programme, Huru International was founded by Lorna Macleod, with funding from Micato and a number of prominent foundations and corporate partners.
Huru addresses a major but often overlooked social problem: Kenyan girls — and girls worldwide — who can’t afford sanitary pads very often avoid school during their periods–the average loss is 4-5 days a month, as much as an entire month each school year.
Since 2008, Huru International has supplied more than 150,000 girls from all regions of Kenya with nearly 1.2 million sanitary pads, many of them made at Micato-AmericaShare’s Harambee Centre workshop.
Huru Kits consist of a colourful drawstring backpack containing eight reusable pads (each pad lasts up to 18 months if properly maintained); three pairs of underwear; detergent-grade soap for washing pads; a resealable waterproof bag for the safe storage of used pads; and educational materials focused on HIV prevention and reproductive and sexual health.
Huru Kits are distributed at community and school events led by facilitators trained by Huru staff. Classrooms of girls — frequently along with teen boys and other community members — attend the distributions, where Huru facilitators speak about menstrual health, sexual and reproductive health, gender norms, gender-based violence, self-confidence, and HIV/AIDS prevention and confidential testing.
The results are deeply gratifying. Girls have been able to stay in school, saving more than 3.75 million lost school days. Dropout rates have dramatically decreased and young women’s lives have been empowered.
Independent evaluation shows the following.
- Girls who receive Huru Kits are 3x less likely to miss school because of their period
- 9 out of 10 girls who receive a Huru Kit see a reduction in period-related absences
- More than 8 out of 10 girls who receive a Huru Kit improve their academic performance
- 9 out of 10 girls report feeling in control of their future after receiving a Huru Kit
Micato is proud and profoundly grateful to be associated with this powerful idea and programme.