We Are All The Same

22:10 June 30, 2008
Orphans of Rwanda Office
Kigali, Rwanda

While Bill Clinton may not be my favorite president and I may not be his favorite intern, one of his statements has stuck with me…..“Despite all of our differences around the world, we, as humans, are 99% the same.” I think the context of the speech was “so why don’t we put down our guns and have peace on earth.” But tonight, after an intense focus group with twenty-somethings who are part of the organization Orphans From Rwanda, I’m going to apply the statement to menstruation. After all, I’m sure that’s what Bill was really getting at in that commencement speech, right?

One of the gals, LaJalia said today, “Sometimes I end up menstruating 6 or 7 days and because the sanitary pads are so expensive I end up using a pad for longer than I probably should. I end up just staying home from school or activities because I don’t want to stamp.” For those of us unfamiliar with menstrual lingo, “stamping” is the strain you might get on your clothes and other things if it bleeds through and you sit on a chair for example, and leave a mark when you get up. While the terms might be unfamiliar to some of us, the gist of the statement sounds all too familiar—the potential embarrassment of situations when we are menstruating. I found it incredible. There I was….5,000 miles away from home, sitting across from strong women who have overcome adversity of having their parents killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and I am nodding my head in agreement thinking, “You bet, sister, I’ve been there.” I remember wearing that white home game basketball uniform, subtly patting the back of my shorts to check if I was “stamping.”

There were only 12 people in the room on this Monday, but almost 3.3 billion other girls and women around the world who would’ve probably nodded their head in agreement with us today.

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