Mathare residents charged Ksh.15 to take a shower, Ksh.5 for toilet use
Imagine not having the things that you would easily take for granted, such as not being able to take a bath every day or when you want to.
For many girls and young women forced to stay at home as schools remain shut, menstruation comes at a high cost.
They often have to choose between food on the table and basic hygiene.
However, a new initiative dubbed Shower for Girls by non-state actors is easing the burden on families by offering free showers and sanitary towels.
In Mathare, people teem with activity; but it is difficult to tell just by first glance that for women and girls, at this time of coronavirus, there is shame when speaking about hygiene.
Every drop of water, the most basic commodity, comes at a cost. Going into a bathroom and feeling the water down your body is a luxury in Mathare as piped water must be bought.
“This ablution block was built to help people around here, because these houses have no restrooms. So, for it to help people, we charge Ksh. 5 to use the toilet and Ksh. 15 to use the showers,” Boniface Njuguna says.
“For instance, I could only afford to pay for about three showers a week for my daughter, but when this project started she can shower daily and sometimes even twice. It has really helped us, they even gave them sanitary pads. that cost has been eased off me,” Mama Jacinta says.
And for days, they can go without showering. It is a choice between either putting food on the table or maintaining hygiene.
“Before corona, life was good as we were in school where we would get enough water and you would shower in the mornings and evenings. Now when we are home, you find yourself showering once a day or you even skip a day without showering because of water,” Gloria Wairimu says.
“Before, girls were not showering and if you ask why, they would say they cannot shower in the house because their fathers are there. also there is no money, their mothers have no money (to pay for a shower) because they have to consolidate funds for meals,” Jacinta Mutethya adds.
The Shower for Girls initiative by Plan International–a development and humanitarian organization—has so far helped 7,200 girls in Huruma and Mathare meet their hygiene needs.
It pays for girls like Jacinta Mutehya and Gloria Wairimu to access bathroom services during this pandemic.
“I know about Plan-International’s project and when they came to help our girl here in Mathare, it really helped us especially with bathroom facilities,” Jemimah Kalemi, a mother says.
“They have saved my mother some money since the money she would have used to pay for my shower, she can use to get us at least three cans of water,” Gloria Wairimu adds.
Kate Maina-Vorley, the Country Director for Plan International told Citizen TV: “We wanted to ensure that we are responding to specific needs for girls in a way that is very personal and is transformative. So we will be looking to see what are the lessons learnt from that and how we might scale that up and how that informs our urban programming as we move forward. it will only be 30 days.”
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