VOLUNTEERS in Peeblesshire are hoping a hygiene initiative for African schoolgirls can be extended.

In 2017 local nurse Lois Hindley travelled to Malawi with members of the Innerleithen, Traquair and Walkerburn Church of Scotland to visit their Thondwe Community Forum partners.

During the visit the Borders visitors distributed 50 safe, reusable menstrual hygiene kits to young Malawian women, made by the Days for Girls Peebles group, which is led by Helen Hunter.

It was quickly established what impact these kits can have on a young woman’s life, by providing a safe, washable alternative to the rags, and other unsanitary items, reportedly used by the girls to enable them to attend school.

Tuesday of this week was International Menstrual Hygiene Day.

And it also marked the launch of the At Anthony's Girls Project, which Lois and Helen hope will deliver menstrual hygiene kits to over 300 girls at St Anthony’s School in Thondwe.

Both campaigners are already working with a group of dedicated volunteers, including pupils from Biggar High School, to raise funds and deliver the kits.

Lois told us: "Currently, UNESCO estimates that one in ten African adolescent girls do not attend school while they have their period and that their full engagement in school activities is negatively impacted.

"Many girls stay at home because of insufficient menstrual hygiene materials, inadequate water and sanitation facilities in schools, or fear of a menstrual accident."

Days for Girls estimates that 60 days of schooling could be lost by each girl each year through not having access to the sanitary products.

The St Anthony’s Girls’ Project aims to provide sanitary products and the relevant Menstrual Hygiene Management education to help girls to continue their education without discrimination or embarrassment, as well as providing work for local Malawian women by encouraging development of sustainable enterprise, and also raising awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding Menstrual Hygiene Management.

Lois added: "During the first phase of the project, the kits will be made by Day For Girls Peebles.

"As the project progresses, the intention is to investigate the possibility of sponsoring Day for Girls training for local woman to provide a sustainable enterprise to meet ongoing needs.

"The project is also grateful for the support of Smalls for All, who have donated over 600 pairs of pants which will be distributed to the girls in October as part of the kit."

It costs around £10 for each kit, which will last two to three years.

And the volunteers have calculated it will cost £25 completely provide enough hygiene items for a girl to go through her high school education.

To support the project go to https://www.everyclick.com/daysforgirlspeebles_stanthonysgirlsproject a