Periods don’t stop during Pandemics: 18-year-old barangay volunteer underscores importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management | Plan International Skip to main content

Periods don’t stop during Pandemics: 18-year-old barangay volunteer underscores importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management

“Donations are usually composed of clothes, toothpaste, and canned goods. This is the first time we received kits with sanitary pads,” said Richelle, 18, a barangay volunteer in one of the most populated districts in Manila.

She may have been a constant face in all local response activities in her community, but Plan International’s menstrual hygiene management orientation was fairly new to her.

“It was our first time, and the items are very helpful. Sanitary napkins are necessities for women and now that we received these items, along with soaps, these can reduce the need to go outside,” she said.

At a young age, Richelle has accepted a challenging and critical role to ensure that COVID-19 response activities in their barangay reach the most vulnerable population.

Richelle’s community is a compilation of temporary housing units and cramped compounds. An urban poor settlement characterized by small spaces for a large number of people makes this community more vulnerable to infectious diseases, like the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, 1,055 families in the barangay lost their homes to a raging fire. This event alone was distressing, topped with a pandemic that mandated quarantine measures resulting to significant loss of income and limited access to basic needs.

Plan International, with funding from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, is one of the organizations that responds to the needs of this barangay.

In mid-July, Plan International provided menstrual hygiene kits coupled with menstrual hygiene management orientation and basic COVID-19 prevention tips to 1,500 people.

Richelle, as a barangay volunteer, incessantly lends her hand to help during the distribution activity.

Richelle accepted the role as their building’s coordinator right when the first community quarantine measure was imposed in the region last March. The local government needs more hand to ensure an efficient and effective system for their response activities, she says.

With population running at more than 23,000, one can imagine how managing the community can be a challenge.

“We need to ensure that those who needed it the most will benefit from all the donations and response activities. We’re the bridge between the local government and the community,” says Richelle.

Richelle believes that the menstrual hygiene management orientation and the menstrual hygiene kits are greatly appreciated by the community.

“I have also learned a lot during the orientation, which I can share with other residents, especially girls and young women,” she says.

For Richelle, it has been refreshing to have an orientation on menstrual hygiene management and making women, and even men, attend these activities. It helps in normalizing talks about menstruation.

This response activity is made possible by funding from Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Plan International observes the minimum health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of masks during the distribution, conducted in partnership with the barangay local government unit