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‘’The strain that this will put on the family’s already limited finances will soon be impossible to bear so Rosemary will resort to some very basic solutions to her problem: old newspapers, animal skins, dirty rags or leaves and moss.’’
Rosemary is 12 years old. She lives in one of a small cluster of huts over three hours’ drive, on tar and then dirt tracks, from a large city. Both her parents have died so, with only her elderly grand-mother and her two young brothers, hers is a child headed household.
They manage, somehow, to pay for Rosemary’s schooling, but are about to be confronted by the greatest challenge yet: Rosemary has started her periods and will need access to sanitary towels, a luxury available only to those who can afford them.
The strain that this will put on the family’s already limited finances will soon be impossible to bear so Rosemary will resort to some very basic solutions to her problem: old newspapers, animal skins, dirty rags or leaves and moss. The results will be far-reaching. Embarrassment, discomfort and infection will soon make it very difficult for her to walk to school and back and she will give up going, at least for the week of her period, until the inevitable happens: she falls so far behind in her studies, sometimes unsupported by her male teachers and laughed at by some of the boys, that she will drop out of school altogether and, at age 12, Rosemary’s education will end. Destined to an early marriage, she will become one of the millions of uneducated and disadvantaged poor with no prospects and little hope of life ever changing. And so the sad cycle of poverty and powerlessness for the young women of Zimbabwe continues.
This Rosemary does not exist, but thousands of girls just like her do. And that is why we, the Beatrice Project, exist.