A 13-year-old class five pupil of Saint Francis Primary School at Dakompilayiri in the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba District of the Savannah Region has put her education on hold and ventured into farming to raise money for sanitary pads.
Khadijatu Bawuma, who lives with her 68-year-old paternal grandmother at Dakompilayiri, in an interview told Myjoyonline.com that she was compelled to temporarily leave school to raise money and buy enough sanitary pads to avoid staining her outfits – an incident that has occurred to her many times while in school.
“I don’t have anybody to help me financially. At first, it was my grandmother but now, she says she doesn’t have. So, she (grandmother) asks that I use a piece of cloth but I can’t wear it and go to school with it. Because from experience, it will disgrace me again.”
“So, anytime my flow is due, I stay away from school and now, I’m tired of doing that because friends are all aware and some even gave me names. But once I’m here on the farm with my grandmother, our focus is to get money to enable me to buy enough pads and fend for ourselves,” Khadihatu Bawumah said.
The grandmother, Felicia Bawumah claimed the teenager’s biological mother abandoned her at the age of four and walked out of her marriage.
She added that, Khadijatu’s father, after his wife’s action, also went down south, and has not returned after nine years.
“See how weak I am with this young one. What else can I do; I don’t have a husband. I’m a widow and my children are not here too. So, she is here with me on the farm because she started having her monthly flow and said she wouldn’t wear clothes. But me too I can’t afford the pads. And it’s always like this every month but this time around, she wouldn’t go back,” the grandmother indicated.
Khadijatu Bawumah was first spotted on a two-acre maize farmland by our news crew engaged in weeding.
Madam Felicia appealed to anyone that can be of help to come to her grandchild’s rescue.
“If we get help from anywhere for her, I’ll be very happy because I need her to be better than me tomorrow,” Felicia added.
Little Khadijatu Bawumah told MyJoyOnline about her dream of becoming a professional nurse or a teacher because she loves the two professions.
After hearing the plight of the teenager from our news team, a retired educationist who is also the chief of Dakompilayiri and Kunkuya, Eku-Ewilawura Amos Seidu visited the farm and donated an undisclosed amount of money to Khadijatu through her grandmother to get the pads.
“She needs to get back to school. At least, she can buy sanitary pads that might last for two months or so. I’ll also try and visit you anytime I come to the community, but use the money very well,” he said.
As part of the intervention, the retired educationist also donated a beehive cage and enrolled Khadija and her grandmother in bee-keeping training, alongside 60 other women to help them establish a business and increase their income.
MyJoyOnline checks in that enclave showed that many young girls live under similar conditions and are forced to drop out of school and forced into early marriages.