Juliet is busy with her final exams at Georgetown, but she still took time to say the following about why she got involved:
“In 2006, I joined the Lango Development Forum as a way to give back to my community. The membership comprises of women and men from Lango sub-region with different professional background like doctors, journalist, accountants, engineers, and education experts. The association was inspired by the poor quality of the education system in the region following the 20-year civil war between the Lords Resistance Army and the government of Uganda. The major activity of LDF has been mentoring and providing financial assistance for secondary and higher education. We boast over 20 graduates now in fields including medicine, law, and chemical engineering. These were bright student from poor families who would not have seen the inside of a university had LDF not intervened.
About two years ago, the chair Dr. Caroline Abejja challenged us to each visit the schools we attended to motivate the students with our personal testimony and to encourage them stay in school. I visited Akiya Primary School, where I attended in 1984 to 1985. I noticed fewer girls than boys in the higher grade levels. An inspection of the register indicated that from grades P1-P5 (lower primary) there were 300 girls enrolled, but in grades P5-P7 (upper primary) there were only 50 girls compared to 120 boys. The discrepancy bothered me because it meant that girls were dropping out and losing hope for the future of their education. By the end of this year, only 29 girls will be sitting for exams to graduate from our primary school.
During my visit, a female teacher told me that when the girls begin their menstrual period, euphemistically called neno dwe (“seeing the moon”), they lack sanitary pads and stop coming to school. I decided that it was most important to provide disposable pads to the few girls who made it to primary 7 because this is a transition class to secondary. I purchased 100 disposable pads from the profits made from my small fish farm and personal savings. Unfortunately, when I came to pursue my own studies in the U.S. on a scholarship from the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Program, it was no longer sustainable to provide disposable pads because of the expense. I shared this with my friend Gillian and we began sharing ideas. We decided it was best to provide reusable pads and identified a company in Uganda where we could purchase the reusable pads.
We decided to call our project “Over the Moon” because we want our girls not to be afraid of seeing the moon. We want them to get over the moon and the problems it brings to them, and to have happy futures.”
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