Brettonwood teen leads DYC project to help rural girls

Mandisa Khathi from Brettonwood High School Umbilo donated sanitary towels to 30 girls from KwaQito rural village.

GRADE 11 learner, Mandisa Khathi from Brettonwood High School in Umbilo donated sanitary towels to 30 girls from KwaQito rural village on Saturday.

Khathi is a Project Manager for the non profit and self funded Durban Youth Council (DYC). Khathi, who plans to donate the sanitary towels every month, says she aims to reach 100 girls but for now she can only afford 30.

“I decided to do this because I know pads are the basic necessities for young ladies and not having them leads to low self-esteem and missing school on those particular days. Also, because they live in the rural areas and they are not financially stable, what we are doing as DYC is meeting their needs halfway because we know pads are expensive and that they rely on social grants. As the Councillor for the Advocacy Committee, I wish to see young girls embracing their femininity and I’m willing to keep these young ladies happy and confident,” said Khathi.

Chief Bele, Chief of KwaQiko, a village in the south coast Vulamehlo district said: “I was very amazed when I first heard about this idea, but I am happy about it and proud that it came from a young lady.”

“Anyone willing to donate and support this project is welcome to contact DYC at or they can check us on facebook,” said Kathi.

Earlier this year the KwaZulu-Natal education department announced plans to distribute free sanitary pads to 2 992 schools in the province in an effort to reduce the dropout rate among girls. A circular by the department said four packs per student would be distributed to schools in lower income communities (quantile 1-4) by the end of January. The principal of each school would be responsible for the distribution of the sanitary pads to pupils in grades 4 to 12.

Although there is not enough data to confirm the statistic that more than 6,3 million schoolchildren in South Africa missed classes each month because they could not afford sanitary pads, much attention was given to the possibility that menstruating children did not have access to pads. They resort to methods such as using tree-bark or sandbags covered in cloth or paper, which can result in adverse health implications.

While many corporates, NGOs, student societies and activist groups have banded together to host pad drives (most notably between 2015 and 2016), all were in agreement that drives were inadequate as they were short-term and limited in their reach in the face of a pervasive problem. Various people appealed to the government to provide free sanitary pads, as free condoms are administered by the government in public bathrooms and at border posts.



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