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A woma's first menstrual cycle is a precious day to be celebrated with joy

Otto Tendayi Mponda

When my single mum passed away
I was left to take care of my siblings alone
among them a girl of adolescent age.
It was a tough role to carry over
but being the eldest brother,
I had to brace up even to the extent of nearly taking over the roles of 'mother' and 'aunt'
to my younger siblings.

We all had many challenges along the way,
both emotionally and financially.
But personally speaking,
my greatest challenge of all was reacting to my adolescent sister
when she told me she had had her first menstrual period
but had not known what to do.

I became speechless and did not know how to even react,
as l always thought that a woman's first menstrual cycle was a precious day to be celebrated with joy,
to which this had not been the case for my younger sister.
Instead of joy, her first cycle was clouded with fear and confusion
as noone had yet educated her on the matter.
To make matters worse, me being male did not help matters
as I was equally ignorant on the matter too and did not not know what the process entailed.
Nonetheless, I commended her for her bravery in telling me, assured her that everything was okay
and accompanied her to the local clinic for further advice from the nurses.
That was when I realized that also educating men, alongside women,
about menstruation could benefit the girl child in many ways than one.

To some girls, having their first menstrual cycle is a positive step towards becoming a woman
but for some who may not have been well advised on the matter,
their first experience can be nerve wrecking and unmemorable.
If an adolescent girl child is not prepared well for menstruation or does not have the appropriate resources to use, it can affect her self- confidence and eventually become a barrier in her school performance.
In this view, I believe our primary/ secondary school curriculum needs to spread awareness of menstruation, and possibly put structures in place where teachers/ nurses could be trained to counsel girls with menstruation related problems.
We also could possibly have community groups of women stepping in to help advise young girls who might not have anyone to help advise them on menstruation issues. These grassroots community groups could also extend their helping hand by providing sanitary pads to the less privileged girl child so that she wouldn't have to miss school when having her periods.

Although preparing girls for menstruation still remains a tacky subject
especially in our dynamic families of today,
where you find sisters only living with their brothers or daughters only living with their single parent fathers.
It remains an essential topic that still needs our attention.
Lets not forget the basics when helping the girl child
and know that mensuration awareness boosts self- confidence in adolescent girls,
and that it is such confidence in taking care of their bodies that takes them far in life.



Rebecca R's picture

Good brothers are a blessing


You are an amazing brother. I am a woman and I panicked when I saw that my niece's body was starting to develop. We have had a roundabout conversation about changes one should expect in our body and they were very hard.

For your sister to be able to tell you about her period, well, that shows how great a brother you are. I know this because I have sent my brothers to buy pads for me from the shop and I only send those that I know will understand, those that I share a special bond with.

And you are right, educating men about this is beneficial. There should be a more open dialogue about bodies and growth that is not gender-restrictive. I don't understand why people fear it so much. (Yes, I know I am yet to have that discussion. Heh heh)


Oh Rebecca that's is so true. l'ts funny you spoke of special bonds between people because it takes trust for this kind of dialogue to happen. I know of a male cousin of mine who would refuse to be sent by his bigger sister to buy toilet paper because he said it gave him a bad image being seen by his friends walking with and holding toilet paper rolls in town..later on sanitary pads. Definitely, there should be more dialogue of this nature that is not gender restrictive.


Aminah's picture

are you for real? :)

Can we have more men like you around here?
I mean seriously. I am so happy for your sister who have such a great brother like yourself.

And bringing this topic up for this assignment is like so very innovative and brave.
Your are very right. We need to start with the basics. and yes open dialogues is so very important.

One day you are going to be great dad. (that is if you already are not).

May God bless you Otto.



Maya Norton's picture

Otto, interesting, creative,

Otto, interesting, creative, and unexpected - not to mention important - response to this question. What a blessing you must be to your sisters.

How old were you when your mom (may her memory be a blessing) passed away?

~ Maya

nifkinz's picture

Thank you for being such a

Thank you for being such a great brother! If more sisters had brothers like you, the world could be a better place! I applaud your strength and resolve for dealing with so many things in order to be that great brother. Thank you for sharing this!

Becky Frary

nifkinz's picture

Thank you for being such a

Thank you for being such a great brother! If more sisters had brothers like you, the world could be a better place! I applaud your strength and resolve for dealing with so many things in order to be that great brother. Thank you for sharing this!

Becky Frary

Dana Anderson's picture


These kinds of creative and insightful solutions are what can truly make a change, and I'm so inspired by your take on girls education. I feel we often forget that we are all in this world together, and we will find it difficult to solve any problem with only half of our resources. Women and men must work together to solve issues that ultimately affect them both!

Thank you so much for your personal story and thank you for acting as a true leader for equality and empowerment!


smothyz's picture


i must admit that i never though it from the angle you have come from. i am thankful to God that your sister had you as a brother and you took a step to take her to a local clinic to be explained for further what to do. many men shy away from this topic and thus they hardly talk about it. in this day and age its still a taboo that girls are considered unclean during this period of their life and for you to shed a light on it and be a male........that's amazing.

i agree with you that it should be introduced in school, for personally that's how i learnt it. people came to my school and taught us all about it and whats sanitary towels are. i never remember my own mother talking to me about it.

kudos my brother from another mother and thank you for what you did for your sister.


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that. -Martin Luther King Jnr.

hillary24's picture

Thanks Kudos

Hello good people, I'm grateful for all your comments and advise. You all inspire me in so many ways and l'm grateful to be amongst your company.

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