Every year since 2011, on Mandela Day the Imbumba Foundation in partnership with Nelson Mandela Foundation has been taking to Tanzania to trek Africa's highest peak Mount Kilimanjaro - all this in support of the Trek4Mandela initiative.
The initiative raises funds to provide menstrual hygiene support to young disadvantaged girls under the Caring4girls initiative by Imbumba foundation.
In South Africa, It is estimated that about 3.7 million girls are unable to afford sanitary pads.
Women and girls often don't have enough money to buy female hygiene products and sometimes turn to rags, socks, even notebook paper.
Coupled with this, they often lack access to clean water and private toilet facilities.
Statistical research by the United Nations shows that one in 10 girls in Africa miss school during menstruation.
Research conducted by the University of Stellenbosch also found that 30 percent of learners in South Africa miss school while on their period.
The Imbumba Foundation, which has been the custodian for Mandela Day for the past 10 years, has, through the Caring4Girls Programme, been able to provide over 1 million girls with sanitary protection since 2012 bridging the gap of the “period poverty”.
Due to Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions, the Mount Kilimanjaro expedition was cancelled but the foundation still wants to make an impact on Mandela Day.
It will instead launch “67 Pledges for Mandela Day, July 18, and the focus will be on addressing Menstrual Hygiene, Education and Food Security with the aim of reaching 67 000+ girls who have previously not benefited from the #caring4Girls program.
“Poor menstrual hygiene management can have a greater effect than you may think. While the obvious effect may include having a bad-smelling vaginal discharge, there are many other effects that some may overlook” says Kotex health expert, Dr Nokukhanya Khanyile.
“On average it is recommended that a woman changes her pad at least three times a day during her period. That’s a lot of pads and tampons being used and disposed of for a period cycle which can normally vary between three to 10 days,” adds Khanyile.
Imbumba Foundation has for the Mandela Day initiative partnered with one of the leading pharmaceutical retailers, Dischem.
With a contribution of as little as R10, through purchasing a pack of sanitary towels, one will be donating to #Caring4girls through the #MillionComforts campaign.
Respective brands will match each pack purchased.
As part of the education leg of this year’s campaign focus, a total of 27 000 Matriculants (3 000 in each province) will be assisted with career guidance, university applications, NSFAS and bursary applications for 2021 academic year.
Through Yethu Scholars, 20 young people will be employed for six months to help enable the Class of 2020 and alleviate some of the adverse effects that Covid-19 has had on school-going children, in particular, those who are in their exit year.
As an additional aid to the education plight, the foundation has partnered with the Thuli Madonsela Foundation, to provide a minimum of 67 000 GIG of Data (through the Data Inclusivity Bank) to tackle the issue of access to data and related resources. Data will be made available to disadvantaged Matriculants, for access to the relevant online learning material and online catch-up programs.
All three programs will run simultaneously from July to December 2020.
CEO of Imbumba Foundation, Richard Mabaso says “South Africans are urged to remember the values of the late Nelson Mandela and play their part in the fight against inequality. Our programs are targeted at those who are disenfranchised.
"Covid-19 has put an enormous burden on the shoulders of those who had already been struggling and as civil society, our work gets harder, but the hope of our communities is in all our hands. We all have a significant role to play”.
You can support the initiative here.