Pretty Box Project
Due to our possitive reputation, we were contacted by St Pauls secondary school in Nasuti (Iganga District) to intervene and assist with their rapid decline in girl student attendance due to period poverty. As a result, we partnered with Afripads based in the city of Kampala and purchased over 500 reusable sanitary pads and gifted the girls a Pretty Box containing 1 reusable sanitary pad, underwear, soap, and a menstrual cycle calendar, alongside an introduction to adolescence through drama and workshops.
Aware that our Project was not sustainable, we returned in 2019 providing the school with a Sirius Industrial overlocker machine, Zoje Industrial straight stitching machine, button presser and various accompaniments of tools and fabrics. Our facilitator Naomi Grossett taught the students and teachers (including males) how to make sanitary pads. This empowered the student and teachers, enabling them to respond to their own needs and making the project sustainable. At the end of 2019, St Paul’s reported that despite the school enrolment increasing by 41%, the rate of girls dropping out of school had reduced to 0 within the 2 years that we supported them which confirmed why our work was necessary. Although we were unable to function in the same way throughout 2020 and 2021 due to school closures following Covid-19, we were still in position to raise funds and support over 300 girls with an Afripad and sensitization on how to use them through well trained facilitators on the ground.
July 2022, we introduced a practical sewing internship programme for NEET girls. This Programme is called ‘The Pretty Box Skills programme’ and it operates from our office. We have a fully trained and qualified seamstress who runs workshops 24 hours a week to 6 girls on the 6-month placement.
The seamstress has developed a detailed, quarterly lesson study to monitor the girls’ progress and to ensure that they are effectively understanding and developing. We are currently in month 4 of the project with a 150% attendance rate because every week, girls from different villages keep arriving to join the class and we have to turn them away due to shortages of space and resources. Currently, our waiting list has 8 girls, but this is not reflective of the weekly over capacitated arrivals at the workshop. The 6 girls currently engaged in the programme are showing promising results ranging from making skirts, dresses, and pattern designs. The programme is building their confidence, skills and enhancing creativity. It also has the potential to provide income and provide a gateway to returning to education.
As a result, we have also gone on to register our current participants on the Directorate of Industrial Training exams to gain accreditation so at the end of the course in December 2022, we can support them to obtain a scholarship into further education or support them with a starter sewing kit package.
The course runs for a total of 6 months. The total cost for 6 girls to embark on this valuable sewing internship with accredited certification and a sewing starter kit at the end of the 6month period cost £5,400.
In January 2023, we intend to enrol the next 6 girls on our waiting list for the programme.
Prior to the project launch, we spent a total amount of £950 to purchase x4 straight stitch sewing machines and x2 advanced machines, we have since added 1 more straight stitch sewing machine making a total amount of 5 due to the very high demand that the course has demonstrated in its locality.
£5pm Covers monthly sewing machine maintenance
£10pm covers the cost to run electricity to use the machines and occupy the workshop space
£20pm allows for a girl to participate in end of internship accredited exam and earn a sewing starter kit upon successful graduation
£50pm covers costs of all fabrics and tools used whilst on the course
£100pm covers facilitation, transport, refreshments & general administration
Through this project, we anticipate for every girl student that 2 more young people will develop the skill on average. For the entire year of 12 students, we expect an average reach of 24 more young people developing the skills. We believe that this project will empower the girls to become more confident and business savvy through our livelihood sessions on literacy and finance and that it will provide employment/income generating opportunities that may encourage them to return/or go into education to further advance their careers. In less than 3 months, our students have already learnt how to make shirts and skirts and their confidence is building every week, creating a trusting environment for the girls to be safe and occupied.
The need for our work is greater than ever. Since the beginning of Covid-19 we have witnessed a drastic decline in people’s livelihoods and morale, and we believe that mobilising communities with these skills will reintegrate them to rebuilding relations and taking on a more collaborative approach towards development more than ever before.