Aanandi* (22 years old) lives with her parents in Mahankal Rural Municipality in Lalitpur district of Nepal. She says her childhood was full of love, care, and support. She was top in her class at school but unfortunately, she got diagnosed with epilepsy disorder and had to drop out of education after year 9.

In 2019, Aanandi became involved with Voice of Children Nepal when the organisation started working with her community. Voice of Children and ChildHope have developed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in schools and communities, and run training and workshops to address health and hygiene and support income-generating activities.

When she attended orientation on menstrual hygiene and reproductive healthcare, she couldn’t help but reflect her own experiences as a teenager. Menstruation is still a taboo in her culture and most girls do not get information they need. It is expected that they will figure it out themselves. However, this creates many difficulties for the girls. Aanandi suffered and experienced a lot of pain due to lack of knowledge and menstrual hygiene products, and poor access to proper facilities in her school and to menstrual hygiene products. She developed wounds, experienced itching, burning sensation, and leakage. Most of her friends would not attend school during their periods and many dropped out due to the lack of WASH facilities at school.

To address these issues, our WASH project engages actively with school teachers and community members. It builds their capacities to help students with challenges related to WASH especially regarding menstrual health of adolescent girls and ensures they have the facilities they need and access to information and menstrual hygiene products.

Aanandi recently attended a sanitary pad making training organised by the project team. After the training, she started making sanitary pads and encouraging other women and adolescents in her community to do the same. She is currently selling the pads made by herself in the local shops, which contributes to her household income.

"Sanitary pads are very important for women and their health. I have learnt to make low-cost sanitary pads that are easy to use and support women’s reproductive health. This project has shown me a way to be financially independent and I have developed skills and knowledge on women’s health and menstrual hygiene. I am not only economically stronger, but also socially recognised now. My relatives are very proud of me and it motivates me continue with this work in future.”