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News and events

Another story of change…..by Joy Khumalo, National Director of Ntombi Nto

Menstrual cups – an exciting reception from the communities!

We at Ntombi Nto Girl Child Network Trust have started to work with the Butterfly Cup company (or Viva Lily as it is now called) again. The reception from the girls has been amazing.

We have encountered a few problems with the consent forms which we send to parents and guardians because of language barriers: forms were coming back unsigned because parents were unwilling to sign when they could not understand the English words they contained. So, we decided to translate the forms into the two languages of Zimbabwe, Shona and Ndebele.

While looking up the words to translate ‘menstrual cup’, we were amazed to find that there were words in both languages that we could use. They were taken from the age-old tradition regarding what used to happen to girls and ladies when they were on their period.

At the outskirts of the village, a small insignificant hut was built. This was a very dark and lonely place to be: it was a hut of shame and stigmatization for the ladies of the village. When a woman was observed walking towards the hut, she would be seen by the other villagers as unclean. She would be considered an outcast until her period was finished.

Once inside the hut, the lady would dig a small hole in the ground which was known as a ‘yendlovu’ (Ndebele) or a ‘chikombe’ (Shona), meaning ‘cup’, and there she would have to sit while her period lasted so that the blood would drip into it. Once it was over, she would cover up the hole and the next lady would enter and do the same. There were several of these huts around the village, huts where the women would be made to feel dirty and ashamed.

So, now we have our words for the menstrual cups and the consent forms are being signed by large numbers of parents and guardians, glad that their daughters are being provided with sanitary wear which will last them up to 10 years. Needless to say, the girls themselves are delighted!