Nutan (15 years old, name changed) lives with her mother and two younger brothers in village Itahari in Sunsari district of Nepal. She studies in year 8 in Shree Manamohan Lower Secondary School and her brothers are in class 6 and 4. Her father left their family nine years ago. He has since remarried and his whereabouts are unknown to Nutan’s family. Her mother works as a domestic helper and earns around 7,000 Nepalese Rupees (£43) a month. She’s not literate and her income isn’t sufficient to sustain herself and the children with their basic needs.

The family live in a slum area in abject poverty. The children struggle to meet their nutrition and healthcare needs. Continuing their education is a real challenge and Nutan’s mother struggles to cover their costs. Being the eldest among children, Nutan also faces the responsibility to assist her mother with managing the household.

These challenges only add to Nutan’s troubles during menstruation, making it very difficult for Nutan to be regular in school. As she couldn’t afford to buy menstrual hygiene products, she would skip school for 4-5 days every month while menstruating. As she could only use pieces of cloth for her periods she would have to stay at home.

In 2019, our project began in Nutan’s school running workshops on good water, sanitation, and hygiene practices. It was then that Nutan shared with the team and her teachers about challenges faced by herself.

"Along with my friends I shared openly how it was very difficult for us to come to school during periods. We needed separate toilets with water facilities, and low- cost sanitary pads.”

She has been receiving support and education from the project and teachers and WASH kits which consists of essential items for personal hygiene including sanitary pads. The project team engages with the school management committee to make WASH facilities better for all students. It focuses on improving the condition of the toilets, making available safe drinking water, and enabling cleaner surroundings.

Nutan’s teachers say she is improving in school. The school is also providing counselling to motivate her to continue her education. She has also been spreading awareness regarding WASH in her own community.

“I have been receiving help from WASH project to continue my education and I hope to complete at least secondary level education i.e. class 10th.”