Kenya Red Cross Volunteer Milka Yuda Awarded Florence Nightingale Medal
Milka Hadida receiving her Florence Nightingale Medal from Kenya Red Cross Deputy Secretary-General Programmes Annette Msabeni during the Kenya Red Cross 61stAnnual General Meeting. Onlooking is the Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Dr. Asha Mohammed and Governor Francis Masika.
Know her name. Remember her name. Because Milka Hadida Yuda, our volunteer-based in Tana River cycles hundreds of Kilometres distributing sanitary towels and providing knowledge on menstrual hygiene, changing the lives of vulnerable women and girls in the Galole sub-county. Born and raised in Tana River, the 32-year-old nurse has witnessed young girls using rags and filthy old pieces of mattresses in place of sanitary towels contributed by the high level of poverty within the county. Cultural barriers have led to menstrual shame among school-going girls and young mothers. A majority of them are not educated on menstrual hygiene increasing fungal and bacterial infections.
"One day I was leaving work, a house where I used to wash clothes. On the way, I met a girl crying, and upon enquiring, she told me that she was on her period and did not have money to buy sanitary towels. I only had Ksh.150 which I decided to use to help her out," said Milka Yuda.
Seeing that girl distraught, Milka vowed to do something about it. In 2016, she began saving up the little money that she had buying one pad at a time and piling them up for distribution to girls who could not afford to buy it.
She has been doing this since then, and in 2019 she joined Kenya Red Cross as a volunteer to broaden her networks. Since then, Milka has made it her responsibility to mobilize people to raise funds or buy sanitary towels which she distributes in different villages. With not much income in her hands, but a heart of service and a passion for girls and women, Milka has managed to help one girl at a time. Cycling from one village to another, talking to women and girls on menstrual hygiene matters.
Today, the Tana River menstrual hygiene ambassador Milka Hadida is among 25 outstanding nurses and nursing aides from 18 countries who received the prestigious Florence Nightingale award. The award which is given by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recognizes courage and devotion to victims to the wounded, sick or disabled, or civilian victims of a conflict or disaster. It also recognizes exemplary service or a pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education.
“After undergoing menstrual shame at a tender age and witnessing vulnerable young girls struggling to purchase sanitary towels, I was inspired to collect and distribute sanitary pads from well-wishers and distribute them to the 5,000 girls in Tana River County faced with sanitary towels crisis”, added award-winning Milka Hadida.
During last year’s (2020) 16 Days of Activism, Milka together with combined efforts from the Red Cross teams, Milka received donations from CEC-Ministry of Lands Hon. Mwanajuma Mabuke and AFRI PADS. These were distributed to 2,300 vulnerable women and girls within Tana River County. According to Milka, she did not want to see girls lured by men who would sexually exploit their vulnerability with the lie that they would get money for sanitary towels. She commits to fight for the rights of girls and restore dignity by doing the one critical thing, providing sanitary solutions.
Towards the end of 2020, the Kenyan Government officially gazetted approval by KEBS on the use of reusable sanitary towels. What this endorsement by the government means is that organizations such as AFRIpads who continuously fight period poverty and donate to ambassadors like Milka will get more opportunities to ensure that girls and women across Kenya can have a period without the worry of where the next pad will come from.
Adolescent girls’ voices matter. We need to preserve their rights and dignity. There is so much power in working together. Milka continues to inspire us, and we will keep supporting her in her cause, one that we believe in. Join us in celebrating Milka for her selfless nature. Periods are not an option but a natural process of the biological being of the female reproductive system.
About Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS)
The KRCS, a voluntary humanitarian organization created by an Act of Parliament (Cap 356 of the Laws of Kenya, 21st December 1965), is auxiliary to both national and county governments. It works closely with communities, volunteers, and partners to ensure the efficient delivery of humanitarian response and development services. The KRCS’s vision is to be a sustainable, effective and trusted humanitarian organization serving present and future generations. KRCS work is guided by four core values including: Service to humanity; Integrity; Respect and Innovation. And the value proposition being “Always There”.
PR and Communication Manager, Kenya Red Cross Society