Saturday, October 20, 2012

Over the RUMPS hump

Today was the last of the school practice RUMPS workshops!  What an incredible experience this project has been!  Since the first student teacher’s workshop, which I blogged so excitedly about a few weeks ago, 8 more workshops have taken place at schools all around the region.  I’ve gotten to see many new villages, greet many new faces, and be totally blown away by the ownership and enthusiasm of my girls!

All in all, 9 workshops were held by BPTC student teachers over the last three weeks in government aided primary schools in various villages, towns, and trading centers in the Bushenyi and Sheema districts.  Over 400 primary students, 45 student teachers, and 36 local staff, head teachers, classroom teachers, and senior women were involved.  I figured out that, up to this point, the project has used 1,422 buttons, 711 needles, 12,000 meters of thread, 420 meters of ribbon, 59 towels, and 95 meters of fabric!  It’s exciting to think that all of it is now in the hands of girls all around the region, helping them take care of themselves and minimize their risk of potentially dangerous or unhealthy situations.

I’ve loved seeing the girls from the college step up and take on the project, and seeing the thankfulness for the project and eagerness to learn from the primary school girls.  It’s also been amazing to hear the support and enthusiasm of the local staff in the schools.  Many of the head teachers and senior women have participated in the workshops and expressed the need for this project even more eloquently than I could!  At the end of most of the workshops, a staff representative from the school gave a speech to close the day.  Again and again, these head teachers, senior women, and female staff members reiterated the significance of what the girls had learned through the project. They described how now they would not have to miss school because of their period, not have to resort to a “sugar daddy” to “help” them to get these supplies, and not have to use unhealthy materials to keep the blood from leaking on to their clothing and embarrassing them. Additionally, they implored girls to share their newly acquired knowledge and described how easily the RUMPS can be replicated with materials found at home.  Wow - could I ask for anything more?!  One teacher even described how excited the girls were - saying they might even wear the pads around even when they weren’t having their periods!

All in all, this has been such an exciting project to be a part of!  It has achieved even more than I could have imagined and has taken on a life of its very own!  I have been so incredibly proud of the girls, who have truly owned the project, and so blown away by the need expressed by women and children every where we’ve gone.  I can’t wait to see where it can go in the weeks and months to come, and believe that though many girls’ lives have been impacted, even more can still be empowered through this project!

So...what’s next?!  My first year students are already planning for Health Education and RUMPS teaching they hope to do over the holidays in their villages and in their student teaching next year.  And me?  I’ve already bought more towels, ribbons, buttons, needles, thread, and fabric and have a new audio book queued up on my ipod to listen to while I get more kits ready!  It is my hope that before the term ends in December, I can head out with some of my student teachers to even more nearby schools to keep the project going and share more about these important issues.  I’m also organizing a meeting with the Coordinating Center Tutors in the outreach department of the college to plan for next year and hopefully set up many more RUMPS workshops for the beginning of 2013.

So, although the school practice section of the RUMPS project is coming to an end and although the initial grant money has all been spent, I believe there is lots more potential for this project in Bushenyi!  There is still so much that the project can achieve and so many student teachers excited to keep teaching about Reproductive Health and RUMPS.

If you’re interested in contributing money or materials to keep the project going, shoot me an email!  I would so appreciate support from home to keep this already successful project going!  As student teachers have already been trained and equipped with materials and training manuals, the only ongoing costs are transportation and RUMPS kits.  At less than 75 cents per kit and less than $5.00 round trip for most local taxi rides, a little bit of money or materials truly does go a long way!  Feel free to email if you have any questions or if you are interested in getting involved in keeping the project going!

Truly - thank you for reading and thank you for the support!  What an incredible adventure this has been!

As always, we love and miss you all! :-)


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