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