How FARM STEW, a health and wellness organization, become a Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) Champion.
Since 2017, FARM STEW and AFRIpads have been working together on Menstrual Health and Hygiene interventions. The partnership began with a purchase of a few Menstrual Kits which then steadily grew to 7,937. We chose FARM STEW as our Partner of the Month, November because we love how proactively they integrate our holistic approach through the use of our AFRIpads MHH Education Curriculum and the Data Collection Framework.
In 2015, Joy Kauffman, founded FARM STEW after working with farmers in Uganda on nutrition programmes. Joy discovered that there was a need for a holistic approach to eradication of hunger, disease and poverty. FARM STEW was born to meet this need and is founded on the belief that everyone deserves to have abundant life. Since then the organization has expanded beyond nutrition programmes to include Menstrual Health and Hygiene.
We spoke with Joy, Founder and Executive Director of FARM STEW International, about the link between wellness and menstruation, and FARM STEW’s impact on marginalized communities across East Africa.
How did FARM STEW, an organization focused on hunger, disease and poverty come into partnership with AFRIpads?
We discovered that menstruation was another barrier in the lives of underprivileged girls who were already faced with many challenges such as hunger, disease and poverty. Our qualitative research showed that lack of MHH supplies was a major reason for school absenteeism and drop out. AFRIpads became the solution, because it provided more than reusable sanitary pads but MHH education too, which enabled more girls to stay in school.
What impact has integrating Menstrual Health and Hygiene interventions had on the communities you work in?
FARM STEW promotes and encourages girls to stay in school and pursue higher levels of education. Our MHH interventions have decreased school absenteeism and dropout rates.
The girls now enjoy a better quality of life while menstruating because they can participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, music and debate. This has even encouraged school dropouts to rejoin schools.
Who is your target audience at FARM STEW and what do you hope to achieve by working with them?
We work with the “most vulnerable of the vulnerable” such as orphans, female prisoners and refugees, because for these groups accessing MHH supplies is even more of a barrier. Recently, we supported Seep Orphanage School in Iganga, Uganda with MHH supplies and education. We had been told the girls missed school during their periods because they were afraid of the boys laughing at them and felt that menstruation was a curse. We worked with their school teachers to educate and empower them about menstruation. This is just one of many impact stories.
What would you like FARM STEW to be remembered for?
We are a Christian organization that, like Jesus, desires all people to live abundantly (John 10:10). I would love FARM STEW to be known as an organization that helps people to help themselves. Our partnership with AFRIpads is a great example of that.
Thank you Joy for taking the time to chat with us – we are proud to partner with FARM STEW on their mission to enable people to enjoy abundant lives and we look forward to continuing working closely on their MHH interventions.