The days of girls at Enkululekweni Primary School ditching class because of their periods are over, as the school now has a vending machine that dispenses freed sanitary pads.
On Thursday June 17, the Wallacedene school’s principal, Nondlela Tomose, received the vending machine from MENstruation, a non-profit organisation.
At the handover, were the NPO’s directors, comedian Siv Ngesi and Marius Basson, along with SA national women’s cricketer Sinalo Jafta and SA national women’s rugby captain Babalwa Latsha.
The machine, to be installed in the girls’ lavatory, works on a token system and will dispense a pack of eight pads to each girl at the school every month.
Ms Tomose said many girls at the school became withdrawn when they started menstruating. “And they become scared to come to school. Towards the month-end period, we usually experience a high volume of absenteeism because of menstruation,” she said.
Mr Basson said they had managed to collect 400 000 pads in the last five months in the province, and some had already stocked five vending machines in the city. Forty-eight more machines were on order and would go to schools in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, he said.
He called the R25 000 vending machine “groundbreaking and robust” and said load shedding posed no problem for it because it didn’t run on electricity.
The NPO hoped to eventually deliver thousands of the vending machines across the country and had lobbied government for support, Mr Basson said.
Ms Latsha said: “This brings some form of security for the girls. We are trying to cultivate a generation which will have easy access to pads.”