As we mark Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th), we are sharing this story of a group of male volunteers that got together to help build a Menstrual Hygiene Management block for their district school. In partnership with DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Water for Women, Habitat for Humanity Australia and Habitat for Humanity Fiji are working on improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services in Fiji.
The family of men that built a Menstrual Hygiene Management Block
Nalaba District School is located in the Nalawa area of the Ra province in Fiji, a one-hour drive from its closest township. This is one of six schools where Habitat for Humanity Fiji (Habitat Fiji) is piloting the building of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) blocks. MHM blocks are fitted with a shower and change space for female students to use should they experience their first periods or menses unexpectedly while in school.
With the support of Habitat for Humanity Fiji plumbers, Nalaba District School Manager Akini Seru has been leading the building of the School’s MHM block. 53 year-old Akini called on his brothers and cousins who all live in a close-knit farming community near the school to come and assist with the build.
The build required a lot of commitment from the men as they had to walk a few kilometres to and from the construction site. They also had to leave their daily farming routine for the four-week period of the build. However, being able to provide a space for girls to deal with their first menses in school with dignity seemed to outweigh any of the challenges this family of men faced.
38 year-old volunteer Epeli Raganivatu had this to say: “Building the MHM facility is something I’m truly proud of. When I attended the school, this was something that was not promoted and girls would often get teased in school if they had their menses during school hours.”
Menstrual Hygiene is still a taboo topic in some of our communities here in Fiji. So this move by a family of men to come together to build a MHM block not only helps young girls deal with their menses in a more dignified way, but it also challenges our conservative way of discussing menstrual hygiene within our communities.
The vision of Menstrual Hygiene Day is: To create a world where no woman or girl is held back because she menstruates, by 2030. A world without period stigma and period poverty.