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No longer afraid to go to school: How access to sanitary pads changes lives in South Sudan

Story and photos by Corrie Butler
For many girls in South Sudan, menstruation is not just uncomfortable – it can become a major barrier to stay in school.

South Sudan school books"It used to be a challenge,” remembers Elizabeth, 17. “Sometimes we would stay at home for as long as seven days because we feared to come to school.”
She admitted that she had to miss at least one week of school every month, which was severely impacting her performance in school.
Last year, the South Sudan Red Cross provided her, along with 119 other school girls in the area with reusable sanitary pads and soap as part of a pilot project with the Canadian Red Cross.
"I used to get 75 per cent in my classes. Now, I will even get as high as 100," says Elizabeth with a smile.
"There are only 50 girls in this school that have received it so far. I would like all girls in my school to be able to get the sanitary pads. More of them would be able to stay in school."
Due to the success of this pilot initiative, the project has now expanded to four more schools in Gogrial West, South Sudan this year, helping keep more than 1,320 girls healthy and in school. 
“Now that I have the sanitary pads, I am in school all the time,” explains fellow student, Angelina, 16. “I love studying Science and English – I am now getting 90 per cent in school.”
“I want to be a doctor one day,” she says with a smile.

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