Ask anyone at her school or in her neighbourhood of Grootfontein about 15-year-old Sherry Muchaka, and in one way or another they will tell you about her efforts to better the lives of her female peers.
Muchaka, a grade 10 learner at the Grootfontein Secondary School, is the powerhouse behind the Sherry Drops a Pad initiative that is tackling the plight of menstruation stigmatisation among young girls by donating sanitary pads at her school and neighbouring schools.
In her quest to ‘keep a girl child in school’, Muchaka said the lack of provision and accessibility of sanitary towels can result in many missing out on school or being disadvantaged in other areas of their lives.
“Most female learners, especially at my school, miss classes because they don’t have sanitary pads. With my initiative, I ensure my fellow learners have an academic advantage to excel as productive members of the Grootfontein community, and perhaps most importantly, Namibia at large,” said the young philanthropist.
Determined to make a difference in her community, Muchaka said in the current difficult times, there are many obstacles in the way that children may miss school, but menstruation should not be one of these reasons.
Born and raised in Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa region, she established her sanitary pads’ project when she was 13 years old, and three years later, the initiative has grown to be one of the biggest projects assisting young girls in schools.
With over 100 young girls as beneficiaries, Muchaka has distributed over 5 000 packets of pads free of charge since 2017.
The beneficiary schools include orphanages and vulnerable schools such as Omulunga Primary School, Makalani Primary School, Wilhelm Nortier Primary School and Shamalindi Primary School in the Grootfontein area.
While there is little scientific research to conclude that girls miss school days because of their menstrual cycles, there is quite a bit of subjective evidence that this is indeed the case, with girls missing school for days because they lack access to feminine products.
“When girls miss too many days of school, they often cannot keep up or pass exams, so they eventually drop out,” stated Muchaka, adding that they also aim to raise awareness about the struggles of the girl-child during their periods.
Speaking to New Era, Muchaka’s mother, Gracious Mushabati, commended her daughter for her astonishing work, adding that she has always dreamt of becoming a humanitarian and a ray of light in people’s lives.
Mushabati is thus pleading with organisations, businesses, individuals and the government to help sponsor or donate sanitary pads to the initiative.
“We hope to get more people on board to expand the scope of donations for girls who need it,” she added.
To discuss how one can get involved in the Sherry Drops a Pad initiative, contact Muchaka on 0817196668, or her mother at 0811475727.