LERIBE – The late Whitney Houston, a world-famous musician, once sang about how we all have dreams and how “everyone wants a chance to become someone”.
The rest of the song was about the importance of believing in the power of your dreams and how they could be realised through hard work and determination.
This is the kind of message most of us are constantly fed and people are seldom warned how sometimes, the small, apparently trivial issues can be the stone in the sling that slays dreams bigger than any goliath.
Just a small issue, a small circumstance of life. In the case of young *Selloane from Leribe, it was just one drop of blood that jettisoned her long cherished dreams.
Terrified and alone, the young girl fearfully peeped into her panties at the few drops of blood that stained her underwear.
From her sexual reproductive health (SRH) lessons in school, the young terrified teenager knew the blood drops were ushering her into womanhood – a stage she would rather skip.
“I come from a poor family. Buying pads for us is something of a luxury we cannot afford,” the 17-year-old recently told the Lesotho Times.
“I hated seeing that blood on my panties and so I had to choose between my dreams of going to the National University of Lesotho (NUL) to study nursing and finding an alternative to cut-short the menstrual cycle.”
That ‘alternative’, for many from disadvantaged backgrounds like Ms Selloane, was to fall pregnant.
Ms Selloane said there was that myth among most young girls in the Leribe community that pregnancy cured period pains.
“I didn’t suffer from period pains but I knew I wouldn’t worry about sanitary pads for a full nine months.
“So four months into my menstrual periods, I gave in to my boyfriend’s pressure to have sex for my own selfish reasons,” she said, adding that their sexual encounters became regular and she fell pregnant a few months later.
“But now I know better and pregnancy isn’t a solution to lack of access to pads because even today, I still don’t have pads,” she said.
Ms Selloane’s is an example of the tragic tale of crushed dreams due to lack and ignorance which Help Lesotho is seeking to end through its work of assisting at least 500 disadvantaged girls in the Leribe, Butha-Buthe and Thaba-Tseka districts.
The Leribe-based organisation which is dedicated to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, gender equality and providing support to disadvantaged groups, decided to donate reusable sanitary towels to the girls after realising their monthly plight.
These washable towels can be used for at least six months with two shields with a moisture proof barrier and “wings” that wrap around a pair of underwear; eight tri-fold liners.
Each square liner can be folded in three to act as the pad and zip-lock bags used to wash the pads without touching the soiled towels as well as portable carrying bags.
One of the beneficiaries, 18-year-old Motebele Monotsi said the reusable pads are user-friendly and portable.
“My days of using cloths are over and I love the fact that these are very portable,” Ms Monotsi said.
“In the past, I would be forced to stay at home during my monthly menstrual cycle and at times I would miss important commitments like piece jobs.
“So with the reusable sanitary towels I don’t have to miss any commitments because they are easy to carry and the used pads can be stored in the sealable plastic bags,” Ms Monotsi said.
She said this would also save her at least M10 per month which would have been spent on buying sanitary towels.
Help Lesotho Youth Leadership officer, Thato Letšela told this publication that the reusable sanitary towels restored the girls’ dignity.
“Menstruation is a natural stage of womanhood every woman passes through regardless of one’s financial muscle and Help Lesotho realised that among the many challenges facing girls in these three districts was their inability to buy sanitary towels on monthly basis,” Ms Letšela said.
Ms Letšela said menstruation was uncomfortable and the lack of sanitary towels made the experience even more tortuous.
“Not only are we giving pads to the disadvantaged adolescents but teenage mothers have also received the reusable towels. Knowing how dispersible menstrual blood is, we have also provided the beneficiaries with sealable plastic bags which they can use to wash their reusable towels without touching them,” she said.
Help Lesotho Country Director, Shadrack Mutembei said his organisation took a sample of a reusable sanitary towel from Canada to a Maputsoe-based company, which in turn managed to produce the much-needed product.
“Each pack costs M150 and to date we have distributed over 500 sanitary towels to girls in Leribe, Thaba-Tseka and Butha-Buthe districts,” Mr Mutembei said.
He said they initiated the project after realising that girls in these three districts were missing school at least five days every month because of lack of sanitary towels.
He said that missing school five days in every month put girls at the disadvantaged point, compromising efforts being made to empower female in all aspects of life.
“We want our girls to stay in school so that they will in future be able to secure jobs of their choice, have a say in their future when it comes to marital choices and be able to provide for themselves,” he said, adding that we have also managed to restore their dignity.
He also said that the pads were easy to change and they were also environmental friendly.
Impact of sanitary towels on environment
The Conventional to Conscious study, published in October 2016 found that many people did not know that conventional sanitary pads contain a staggering amount of plastic — 90%.
The study found that each year more than 45 billion feminine hygiene products entered the waste stream.
“They are either incinerated, which releases harmful gasses and toxic waste, or sent to the landfill where they take hundreds of years to break down. On a planet, with a growing population, we must consider how the products we purchase impact the environment — the land, our water supply, and the ocean — for generations to come,” reads part of the study.
Another study, titled The Ecological Impact of Feminine Hygiene Products, claimed that the next big environmental challenge was that of disposable feminine hygiene products.
The American-based study said close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators were dumped into North American landfills every year.
“When wrapped in plastic bags, feminine hygiene waste can take centuries to biodegrade. The average woman uses over 11 000 tampons during her lifetime, leaving behind residue far beyond her lifespan,” reads part of the study.
The colossal waste burden however, isn’t the only ecological impact of disposable feminine hygiene products.
A Life Cycle Assessment of tampons conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, found that the largest impact on global warming was caused by the processing of LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene) used in tampon applicators as well as in the plastic back-strip of a sanitary napkin requiring high amounts of fossil fuel generated energy.
A year’s worth of a typical feminine hygiene product leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents.
The study noted that over 50% of the world’s population menstruates, and yet conversations about feminine hygiene and the ecological impact of product choices woman make in the space, were not discussed.
“In fact, the taboo surrounding menstrual periods stunted the development of new products in the space with little to no innovations for over 80 years,” the study noted.
The study alleged that major corporations such like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble have argued that there would be tremendous friction involved in shifting consumer behaviour away from disposable products to reusable ones.
“Menstrual cups, reusable pads and sponges are readily available but haven’t gained much traction so far.”
The study called for an urgent need to innovate and find sustainable and yet practical solutions to feminine hygiene challenges.
It further said the problem with stigma was that it often denies women a vocabulary to deal with the issues around menstrual health and hygiene.
“Open dialogue is the first step in changing the way women deal with menstruation and can create awareness around the need to make a switch.”
Contacted for comment, Lesotho Meteorological Service (LMS) principal meteorologist France Mokoena said they had not conducted a study on the impact of sanitary towel production on the environment.
“Our main interest or focus is the impact products have on the space which might cause climate change and up to date we haven’t conducted any study on the cause of sanitary towels on changing climatic conditions,” Mr Mokoena said.
The Ministry of Health’s Senior Health Inspector Mosepeli Ralikae is on record, saying that sanitary disposal was still a huge problem in Lesotho.
“Waste management in Lesotho is still a serious matter, especially when it comes to sanitary towels, condoms and disposable nappies. They all have dire consequences on our environment and toilets,” she said, adding the best way of disposing of sanitary towels was to burn them.
Zimbabwe Economy Shifts Towards Dollarization
According to the latest statistics released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat), the country’s economy is rapidly dollarizing. Results from the eighth round of the Rapid Poverty, Income, Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (Pices) showed that 78% of transactions for food purchases were conducted in foreign currency, with only 21% of food purchase transactions conducted in local currency.
The results, which were gathered from a sample size of 1,145 households and covered the period from July 20 to August 17, 2022, revealed a significant shift from the findings of the seventh round of the survey conducted in June 2022. The report showed that the use of foreign currency was higher in rural areas than in urban areas and that the US dollar was the most used currency for the purchase of beef and maize meal. The survey also collected data on the availability of basic commodities such as maize meal, cooking oil, rice, beef, and bread in both rural and urban areas.
The news of Zimbabwe’s rapidly dollarizing economy came as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) reported that the local currency was on a free-fall against the greenback. Official results from the RBZ’s foreign currency auction showed that the local currency was trading at $805 to the US dollar, up from $735. On the parallel market, the local currency was trading at an even higher rate, at $1,200 to the greenback.
These findings indicate that Zimbabwe’s economy is facing significant challenges, and the country is rapidly moving towards a more dollarized economy. The government and the central bank will need to take strong and decisive action to address these challenges and restore confidence in the local currency. It remains to be seen how the country will address these issues and what steps it will take to stabilize its economy.
Mauritius – 3 Minors Flee Phoenix Probation Home
Three minors, aged 13, 14, and 15, who had escaped from the Phoenix Probation Home on January 17, fled again at around 7:45 am on Sunday. A staff member assigned to the facility noted their disappearance and reported their escape before filing a complaint at the Phoenix police station.
In her deposition, the staff member explained that she saw the entrance door of the probation home open, as well as the exterior gate. She recounts that the three minors fled again on Sunday.
Police Search for Fugitives
The police’s dog section and the Phoenix Central Investigation Division were notified to find the fugitives. The Family Protection Brigade was also notified of their disappearance. These minors have recently been admitted to this center. One of them arrived a month ago, another three months ago, and the oldest six months ago. They were found earlier last week before fleeing again.
Call for More Specialized Care
The Ombudsperson for Children, Rita Venkatasawmy, was consulted and explained that she visited the site. “I think a more specialized framework is needed. Unfortunately, I have not personally spoken to the girls to understand where the problem comes from. One thing is certain, the house is in good condition and the food is up to par.”
Tropical Storm Cheneso Devastates Madagascar, 30 Killed
Madagascar has been struck by Tropical Storm Cheneso, the first of the year for the Indian Ocean island nation. The storm, which made landfall on January 19th, has resulted in the death of 30 people with 20 still missing. Additionally, nearly 37,000 people have been displaced due to the flooding and landslides caused by the storm.
According to the government’s Office for Risk and Disaster Management, the toll from Cheneso is higher than originally reported, with the death toll rising from 16 last week to 30 currently. This follows a disastrous year in 2020, when four major storms hit Madagascar resulting in 138 deaths and leaving 130,000 without homes.
Displaced and Distressed
The displacement of nearly 37,000 people is a major cause of concern for the Madagascan government. With thousands of citizens forced to leave their homes, the need for emergency relief and support is at an all-time high. The government is working to provide aid to those affected by the storm, but the task at hand is a difficult one.
Tropical Storm Cheneso has had a devastating impact on Madagascar, resulting in the loss of lives and displacement of thousands. The Madagascan government is working to provide aid and support to those affected, but the consequences of the storm will be felt for some time to come.
Seychelles Ranks as Least Corrupt in Africa
Seychelles has once again ranked as the least corrupt country in the sub-Saharan African region, maintaining its position for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released on Tuesday. The island nation attained a global ranking of 23rd, with a score of 70 points, the same as the previous year.
Denmark Tops the Index
Denmark outperformed Finland and took first place in the CPI with 90 points, while Finland and New Zealand tied for second and third place with 87 points each. The CPI report rates the perception of corruption in the public sector on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being highly corrupt and 100 being clean.
Seychelles Outperforms Major Western Democracies
Seychelles remained in 23rd place globally and outperformed major Western democracies such as the United States, which improved on its previous year’s ranking and climbed to 24th place with a score of 69 points.
Anti-Corruption Commission Celebrates Success
The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS), May De Silva, celebrated the news in a press statement, expressing her delight that the island nation’s tireless efforts to root out corruption have been recognized. De Silva stated that the ACCS had made more arrests, charged more suspects, and submitted more cases to the AG’s office for consideration of charges than ever before. Despite this increase in anti-corruption activity, Seychelles was still perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
ACCS Vows to Continue Fight Against Corruption
De Silva also added that the ACCS will never be complacent in its fight against corruption in Seychelles and is focused on continuing to work towards eradicating this crime and creating a fairer society for all citizens. The ACCS will be hosting the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Heads annual meeting in May this year.
Two Major Cases Before the Supreme Court
The ACCS currently has two significant cases before the Supreme Court of Seychelles, including the ‘missing $50 million’ case, involving the removal of foreign aid from a government account in 2002, and the mismanagement of loans at the Seychelles Business Finance Agency (SBFA).
In conclusion, Seychelles’ commitment to fighting corruption has been recognized with its fifth consecutive year as the least corrupt country in the sub-Saharan African region and its global ranking of 23rd. The ACCS is dedicated to continuing its efforts to eradicate corruption and create a fairer society for all citizens.
Leprosy on the Rise in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
The northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has seen an increase in leprosy cases in the past year, according to health authorities. The governor of the province, Valige Tuabo, announced that 568 cases of leprosy were reported in 2022, a rise of 73 from the 495 cases registered in 2021. The rise in cases was reportedly seen in certain districts, including Montepuez, Chiure, Namuno, Nangade, Meluco, and Mecufi, where the disease was considered uncontrolled.
Cabo Delgado was declared a leprosy-free zone by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008, however, new episodes of the disease have been reported since 2015. The diagnosis of more cases is a result of the intensification of active searches in communities and the screening of contacts of patients undergoing treatment in endemic districts.
“The fight against this disease requires selfless work for the early diagnosis and treatment of leprosy to prevent physical deformities,” said the governor. He also called on citizens to fight against the stigma and discrimination against those suffering from the disease.
Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment
The prevalence of leprosy has increased from 1.5 to 2.1 cases per 10,000 inhabitants in Cabo Delgado. The governor emphasized the importance of early diagnosis and treatment in preventing physical deformities caused by the disease. The intensification of active searches and screening efforts will hopefully lead to the early detection and treatment of cases, reducing the spread of the disease.
Combating Stigma and Discrimination
Leprosy continues to be a misunderstood and stigmatized disease, leading to discrimination against those who suffer from it. The governor’s call for citizens to fight against stigma and discrimination highlights the need for education and awareness about the disease, its causes, and the importance of treating all those affected with compassion and dignity.
The rise in leprosy cases in Cabo Delgado highlights the need for continued efforts in the fight against the disease. Early detection and treatment, as well as education and awareness efforts, are crucial in reducing the spread of leprosy and improving the lives of those affected.
ANC To Declare National State of Disaster, South Africans Kicks
The recent proposal by the African National Congress (ANC) to declare a national state of disaster has been met with suspicion and skepticism by the South African public. The country is currently experiencing its worst bout of load shedding on record, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the government is considering the declaration of a national state of disaster in response to the energy crisis.
However, many South Africans believe that the ANC’s motives for wanting to declare a national state of disaster are not rooted in a desire to improve the country’s well-being, but rather to have unrestricted access to tax money through unregulated procurement processes. The ANC has been criticized for prioritizing their own interests over those of the people, and there is a growing concern that the declaration of a national state of disaster will be used as an excuse to loot the country’s resources.
The last time that President Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster was during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ANC has been accused of stealing R500 billion during this time. This has led many South Africans to believe that the ANC is merely looking for an excuse to milk the country dry and increase the country’s debt.
Lawson Naidoo, an expert on South African politics, has weighed in on the issue, stating that the ANC’s proposal to declare a national state of disaster is deeply concerning and that the public needs to be vigilant in ensuring that the country’s resources are not misused.
The energy crisis in South Africa is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, but the public needs to be assured that any measures taken to resolve the crisis are rooted in a genuine desire to improve the well-being of the country and its people, and not just to line the pockets of the ANC. The South African public is calling for transparency and accountability, and for the government to prioritize the needs of the people over their own interests.
South Africa – Three injured, eight dead in birthday party shooting
On Sunday night, the city of Gqeberha, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, was rocked by a horrific mass shooting that took place at a birthday party in the Kwazakhele Township. According to the police, two unidentified gunmen entered the house where the party was being held and began “randomly shooting at guests” who were dancing and mingling. The result of this violent attack was the death of eight people, with three others being injured.
Vusumzi Sishuba, who was celebrating his 51st birthday, was among those who lost their lives in this tragic incident. The families of the victims, including Mr. Sishuba’s, are said to be in a state of shock and disbelief as they try to come to terms with this horrific event. Five men and three women, aged between 20 and 64, have been identified as victims of this senseless act of violence.
Eastern Cape Police Commissioner Nomthetheleli Lillian Mene has stated that the police will not rest until they find out what happened and who was responsible for this “callous and cold-blooded attack on these unsuspecting victims.” No arrests have been made at this time, and police have urged the public to come forward with any information that may help the investigation.
Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the scene of the shooting on Monday and asked for patience as the investigation continues. He acknowledged that everyone is angry and wants a quick response, but he also emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough investigation. “We request a little bit of space so that we do the work thoroughly,” he told reporters in Gqeberha, which was formerly known as Port Elizabeth.
South Africa has one of the highest gun crime rates in the world, but random mass shootings are relatively uncommon. In 2020, there were a series of shootings in separate bars across the country that left more than 20 people dead. These incidents are still under investigation.
The motive behind the Gqeberha shooting remains unknown, and it is unclear what led to such a senseless act of violence. It is important that the investigation is conducted thoroughly, so that the victims and their families can find closure and the perpetrators are brought to justice. Our thoughts and condolences go out to those affected by this tragedy, and we hope that peace and justice will soon be restored in Gqeberha.
Body washed up on Camps Bay beach
Cape Town, South Africa – A body of an unknown woman was discovered washed up on Camps Bay beach in the early hours of Saturday morning. The woman has not yet been identified and police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying her.
According to police, the body had been in the water for approximately 12 hours before it was discovered. The cause of death is currently under investigation, however, police suspect that the woman may have drowned at another beach and washed up on Camps Bay beach due to the current.
This is the third body to be discovered on Camps Bay beach since the beginning of the year. Camps Bay police have requested anyone who can assist in identifying the victim to contact their nearest police station.
Camps Bay police spokesperson, Keith Chandler, stated, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and our thoughts and condolences go out to the victim’s family and friends. We are currently working to determine the cause of death and identify the victim. We urge anyone who may have information about this incident to come forward and speak with the police.”
The body was declared deceased on the scene by medical personnel. Police are currently working to gather evidence and investigate the incident. The victim’s next of kin have not yet been notified.
This tragic event has raised concerns among the community and local authorities are working to increase safety measures on the beach and surrounding areas. The public is urged to be cautious when swimming and to always be aware of their surroundings.
Camps Bay police have also urged anyone who may have information about the incident to come forward and speak with the police. The police are asking for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious or have any information about the incident to contact the nearest police station.
This is a developing story and more information will be provided as it becomes available. The police are asking for the public’s cooperation in this matter and to contact them if they have any information about the incident.
Schools Resume Following Cholera Outbreak in Malawi
Schools in Malawi’s two largest cities, Lilongwe and Blantyre, have reopened after a two-week suspension caused by a cholera outbreak. The bacterial illness has killed close to 800 people, more than 100 of them children, and affected more than 25,000.
Malawi’s government announced measures to prevent cholera from spreading in schools, including fixing broken boreholes and water taps in the schools and banning the sale of cooked food around school premises. Additionally, the U.N.’s children’s agency, UNICEF, has started distributing anti-cholera supplies in schools in areas most affected by the outbreak.
However, despite these measures, the government has warned that they may close the schools again if the outbreak spreads among students at an unmanageable level. This news has caused visible excitement among students when schools reopened Tuesday in Lilongwe and Blantyre.
Many students were worried about the closure’s impact on their ability to pass national examinations this year. Ronnie Lutepo, a student at Michiru View secondary school in Blantyre, said returning to the school was the best thing he hoped for. “Yes, as I was at home my mum was telling me to study, but being in an examination class affected me badly,” he said. “We are all supposed to be here and ready for the exams and if we are not ready, we are not going to get good grades.”
The reopening of the schools is an important step in preventing the further spread of cholera. However, it is crucial for the government and schools to continue to take necessary precautions to protect the students and staff from this deadly disease.
SADC Condemns Mozambique Troops Burning Dead Terrorists
The Namibian head of state, Hage Geingob, who is also the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security regarding the SADC Mission in Mozambique, has condemned the acts of violence shown in a video circulated on social media. The footage, apparently filmed on November 29, 2022, shows soldiers, wearing as-yet unidentified defence force uniforms, burning the bodies of dead individuals in Nkonga village, located in the Nangade district of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.
Geingob has called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the video, saying that he does not condone such acts of extremist violence. He has also stated that the results of the investigation will be shared with the public once completed. The South African National Defence Force has also launched an investigation into the matter.
The incident appears to have taken place near Nkonga village, where a regional force called SAMIM and Rwandan troops have been fighting insurgents affiliated with the Islamic State since July 2021. The conflict in Mozambique began in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado in 2017, with militant attacks that have forced close to a million people to become internally displaced. This province is rich in natural gas reserves and is host to an estimated $60 billion worth of international investment in gas projects.
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