A young high school girl asks her foreigner teacher whether she also has period like she does. To most people, this is a bit of shocking and heart breaking moment hearing it from a high school student in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia. This story is from Jesi Thome, a volunteer from Peace Corp who teach English at Institute of technology in kampong chheuteal, Kampong Thom province, Cambodia. After we get in contact, we want to do something small and great for the girls at the high school there, so we plan a menstruation and sewing class with a small group of them on 12th May and also to celebrate Menstruation Hygiene day.
We ride about 1 hour from the downtown of Kampong Thom province in Tuk Tuk to the high school. It was a small class with 12 girls which full of joy and curiosity. The class went very well with menstruation knowledge, hygiene, sewing washable pads and introduction to menstrual cup. Talking about menstrual cup, we are able to link it to virginity, the fact that menstrual cup needs to go pass the hymen. Virginity is a really sensitive topic in Cambodia society, fault belief that hymen is absent of hole, besides sexual intercourse before getting married, exercises including hiking or biking are avoided. Woman thinks these exercises could by accident tear hymen without knowing. Hymen is women life and happiness. A woman needs to stay virgin until she gets married, a sign of honesty, innocent, pure and nice compare to a folding skirt in the closet. Man prefers that kind of woman, to be the type guarantees her happiness. We got chance to clarify the fact about hymen and virginity. Virginity to them means hymen is in good shape, absent of hole. We showed them the picture of hymen, and explained them the fact that each of them is unique. When girl’s body is ready for menstruation, it grows and hymen has hole where period blood can come out. It means girl is healthy, while absent means the period blood can’t come out and she need to see the doctor. We are happy that girls love the class especially they love that they can sew the washable pads themselves. Some of them want to try the cup, so we give away 6 of them to those that want to try.
After this fruitful moment in May, we want to keep having class with volunteers to reach more girls in high school at Kampong Thom province. We email companies for cups donation, plan to design the website and platform that tell menstruation story, and provide menstruation. We want to continue to do this small and great work until menstruation education is widely known, and girl understands menstruation is life and their feminine power, not their obstacle.