The Madeleine Mukashema Foundation (MMF or MAMU Foundation) is committed to providing menstrual hygiene education to young girls and women (including those who identify as such and menstruate) through but not limited to supplying sanitary supplies, toiletries and products, soap, access to clean water and undergarments in the Western province of Rwanda.
MMF works with communities to improve access to toilets, showers, sanitary products and education for girls and women (those who identify as such) about periods and sex, so girls can go to school and get the skills they need to break out of poverty and take full control of their bodies and lives.
Poverty has been the number one cause of girls lacking proper hygiene during their menstrual periods and with that, comes the tremendous health risks that fuel the numerous other consequences.
Imagine if you came from a household of 5 individual who menstruate, each living on less than $1/day; affording safe menstrual products is out of the question and very often, people have to be creative and find ways to live with this human gift that we call Menstruation. Periods are a natural process that is a part of nearly every girl’s life.
On average, a woman bleeds for 6yrs of her entire life, but without access to toilets or sanitary products at school and at home, girls’ lives are put on hold during their period, as they have little choice but to stay at home. This has a huge impact on girls’ education. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 girls in Africa will miss school when they have their periods. Missing days at school can lead girls to drop out altogether, putting them at greater risk of child marriage, and getting pregnant at a younger age.
In Rwanda specifically, girls miss up to 60 days of school or work every year because of their menstruation.
The Madeleine Mukashema Foundation is a registered non for profit registered in Canada and operating in Rwanda, since 2017. It was started by a mother-daughter duo, Madeleine Mukashema herself and her youngest daughter Ms. Heldden Byumvuhore.
Madeleine Mukashema is a mother of 10, and grandmother of 6 and currently resides in Sherbrooke Quebec, Canada. Beside being a mother of 10, she is also a strong leader and a resilient woman who has always instilled in all her children the value of doing what is right. Inspired by her experience when she first got her period, she always made sure to tell her story to all her children, boys and girls alike, about the dangers of not having proper sanitation/hygiene during menstrual periods. She has always proclaimed that her giving birth to ten children was life’s way to not punish her for the harsh realities of her family’s lack of means in attaining proper menstrual hygiene throughout her adolescent years. She considers her children her purpose of life. Understanding that she was lucky to have given birth to ten healthy children despite of her reality, in 2015, she visited the Groupe Scolaire Kiziguro Protestant school, which she had a chance to attend briefly during her younger years and she was shocked to learn that the young girls there are still facing the same difficulties she had to go through as a young woman. While there, she met a young girl who was her second cousin removed, whom she befriended and before leaving the village, wanted to leave the girl a souvenir. When she asked her what she wanted, instead of the fancy dresses or candy that one would expect to be the yearnings of one so young, she was heartbroken by the fact that the young girl asked for underwear instead. Touched by the surprising demand of the young girl, Mukashema vowed to do something about it. When she came back to Canada, she recounted the story to her children and the rest was history. In her spare time, Madeleine Mukashema enjoys spending time with her children and her grandchildren.
Heldden Byumvuhore is the co-Founder of Madeleine Mukashema Foundation (MMF), a non for profit Foundation that provides menstrual hygiene products and utilities as well as undergarments to young school girls from low income households in Ngororero, Rwanda, in hopes to eliminate the need for them to stay home during their menstrual periods. It is based in Canada and operates in Rwanda. Heldden also started the #EndTheBloodyStigma Initiative under MMF foundation to encourage the continual advocating for menstrual health and realities, in daily lives. She advocates for social, economic and political empowerment of women and girls around the world. Heldden joined the Global Shapers Community – Montréal hub in 2018.