News and events

A story of change…

We are proud to share the story written by Joy Khumalo (country director of Ntombi Nto) about a change taking place in her community as a result of using the Auntie Stella kits. The names have been changed, but the events are true and reflect the early years of the project.

The Auntie Stella discussion kit (www.tarsc.org/auntiestella) is one of the tools Ntombi Nto uses to help the adult leaders, the Peer Educators and the girls on the project. This is a wonderful resource which helps young people discuss all too familiar problems such as unwanted sexual advances, fears about sexual relationships and the more mundane worries about acne and period pains.

Judith’s Story

This doesn’t start off as a story about Auntie Stella, but just be patient; it will come.

My name is Judith and I work with a project that distributes sanitary pads to girls in rural Matabeleland. Each month I take the pads, along with bread and orange drink, to three sites, where several pastors volunteer to help us. This initially surprised us, because in our culture men never talk about menstruation, and churches can often be conservative.

We also introduced the pastors to Auntie Stella. One of them, Pastor Maseko, saw it as a perfect tool for his work, providing – as he said – “a bridge that builds trust between generations.” He especially thought the pack was important for youth with no parents or for those who had no guidance about growing up.

When the girls in the pastor’s village first saw the cards, they gasped and giggled, but he encouraged them not to be shy. Soon they were talking eagerly, and they also produced plays about the situations.

However, there was one problem. Every month, the pastor seemed to be taking half of the goods away after the sessions. He seemed like a man of God, but I was worried. One day, I followed him outside, and as half the girls lived too far away to come to the distribution, I found him loading his bike with pads, orange drink, and bread – and of course Auntie Stella and his Bible. He put logs across the carrier to strengthen it, and it was stacked up high, tied securely with black rubber ropes. What was he doing with the extra stuff?

His wife explained everything. She told us that the next day the Pastor would leave home early and cycle to three other schools – half a day’s hot and dusty journey – to reach the girls on the project who lived too far away to attend the distribution. “It’s too far for the girls to walk to us, but he really cares that they get proper sanitary pads – and also proper information and he knows the girls are benefitting. Some people laugh at him but he sees it as the Lord’s work, guiding young people in physical as well as spiritual things.”

Others around are changing too. Schools and churches want Auntie Stella packs, and people now want sessions for boys as well!

Like I said before, the sanitary pads were the starting point. But Auntie Stella made a huge difference too!