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Caption:Limpo, 22, trims to size a large cow patty used during menstruation. 'I cannot say that I am completely comfortable and happy using these materials to manage my periods. If I had an alternative, I would use other stuff. It is just that I don’t have an option, so I keep using this anyway. I have never seen or experienced any complications with cow patties.' Kembi Village, Mongu District, Zambia, August 2018.
Credit:WaterAid/ Chileshe Chanda
Usage Rights:(1) Images may be used for all purposes, globally, in perpetuity. Images may be used by third parties.
Size:12.0MB
5304 x 7952px
Key Information:Location: Kembi Village, Mongu District, Zambia
Local Partner : N/A
Project Status: N/A
Interview:Interviewee:
Limpo, 22

Interview:

"I was born here and I have been living here all my life. My (extended) family lives in Kembi and we have all grown up here.

I use cow patties to manage my period. I started using them along time ago just from the time I started having my period. I collect cow patties from the grazing areas for cattle in the plain and they are readily available.

Sometimes I collect dry ones and other times I collect semi dry ones depending on the season. If it is wet season, I collect cow patties and stock them somewhere to make sure they are completely dry before use. In a dry and hot season like now, I find them already dry and all I do is pick and use.

I spend a little time shaping cow patties into sizable pieces that can fit in my underwear comfortably. This is a very simple task for me each time I need to.

I do not put the cow patties directly on my skin, I wrap it in a cloth and place it nicely to capture the flow without staining other clothes. I like this method because cow patties soak up a lot of blood before they are completely soaked. I go about doing all sorts of things without any trouble. Once soaked, I carefully dispose it privately. I usually dig a small hole in the ground and bury it. In our culture it is not allowed that men see such things.

I use cow patties to manage my period because I don’t have money to buy the pads [conventional sanitary towels]. These cow patties are free and readily available.

Yes I have used a pad [sanitary towel] before. I have only used it once when I was given one at school. I don’t have much experience with pads. I have been using this method most of the time.

It is my grandmother who first taught me how to manage my period. She is the one who showed me how to use cow patties in this manner. The second time I heard about using cow patties in managing my period was during ‘Sikenge’ [a traditional ceremony held to teach girls that have become of age] initiation month. That is when my Chilombola, the traditional counselor, also taught me about it.

I cannot say that I am completely comfortable and happy using these materials to manage my periods. If I had an alternative, I would use other stuff. It is just that I don’t have an option, so I keep using this anyway. I have never seen or experienced any complications with cow patties.

From my single experience with the pad, I think it works very well just like cow patties they both work effectively."

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