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Shekhar Mehta, Rotary Int’l president, wants the world to copy girl-child initiative from Port Harcourt

Indian-born Shekhar Mehta, leader of the Rotary International (RI), has urged other parts of the world to look up what the group is doing in Port Harcourt under District 9141 (Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Edo) about girl-child development.

Mehta said this when he inspected 640 girls learning to produce reusable sanitary pads at a community close to the river that connects to the Atlantic Ocean at Borokiri, southernmost Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. Mehta, who came with his wife, Rashi, said the day was one of his happiest days because he saw the fulfillment of what he preaches around the world.

He said he was glad to see that girls who learn this can use them and also sell. He observed that the product is good for the environment because it is bio-degradable. He said he expects the world to learn the scheme and other girl-child schemes from Port Harcourt, saying his team is also doing it in India, training 5,000 girls, starting with 50.

He expressed the leaders of the scheme and promised to complement the effort so that girls around the world can train to do it.

Rotary Club District 9i41 said it is targeting to train 2000 girls on how to make reusable sanitary pads to use and sell to others and establish a living. First batch of 640 girls started the training.

Read also: Mass abduction threatens girl-child education in Nigeria & experts

According to a spokesperson, Ibim Semenitari, all the clubs in the District joined hands to execute the project. “It is a pro-poor project to help girls use sanitary pads hygienically. Materials used are certified by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC). Girl-child projects help the girls to get along. These are silent problems of the society.”

District Governor, Andy Uweieyan, said the president is passionate on empowerment of the girl-child. “Many members have taken personal interest in the project and have put in everything at their disposal to make it work.’

One of the girls, I Fubara, said they were glad to learn menstrual hygiene management from experts with access to the best materials. “We have learnt how to dispose our pads and how to manage our periods. Its economical because we can use and sell. We are very grateful and very happy.’

The king of Borokiri, Garrick Achesemie, who was represented by the chairman of the Chiefs council, Koroma Aaron, said the community was happy to be chosen for the visit of the highest Rotary leader in the world and the choice for the girl-child project.

Mehta’s visit is said to be significant in the fight against cervical cancer and other girl-child threats as about 36.59m Nigerian adult females face the threats and over 8,000 already dyeing annually, a battle the District is helping to fight against.

Mehta’s visit to Rotary District 9141 witnessed commissioning of projects in Port Harcourt that touch on three critical areas of attention to Rotary International.

The philanthropist joined battle against ‘period poverty’ which is an affliction to menstruating teenagers from low-income homes. He also lent support to water distribution to earmarked areas.

The president and his wife would commission the cervical cancer screening centre in the Garden City established by Rotary.

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