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We Have All Been There [Part 3] “ME”

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By Tanaya Singh:

Attractive, appealing, pretty, exquisite, gorgeous, glorious, glamorous etc. Key in the word “beautiful” on the thesaurus and you’ll dig out even more than thirty similar words for it. When was the last time you used this word to describe something? Earlier, every pretty face in a theatre act or drama was beautiful….But today, we have numerous alternatives. A girl can be cute, smart, attractive, sexy, blonde, brunette, fair, fragile, lovely, good-looking and stunning. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that…it’s always good to have a few extra words to complement charm. All I am trying to put in here is that, the beauty of the word “beautiful” is a lot more eminent than all others. When you say that something or somebody is beautiful, you make the thing or the person feel it. By doing so, you give that flavour of pride which makes you say the perfect and appropriate word. There are just two comparable things here; the intensity with which you say the word and the manifestation of a happy spark in the receiver’s heart…. Both of these have the very same hues and feelings attached with it.

As all of us know, “Endangered” or “about to be extinct” animals are already giving a lot of worries and taking up a lot of thoughts from each one of us. So let us not allow a word to get lost and be extinct. Obsolete machines or weapons or fashion or maybe obsolete technology can sound digestible. But putting a word in the obsolete criteria really hurts, especially when it is a word that can do wonders for everybody.

So, let me tell you the last time when I actually felt the need to say “beautiful”. Trust me, when I talk about feeling the need, I mean it. It was instant and spontaneous when I realised how important this word is. It is not a long narration or some pepped up story. It’s just a feeling that has an urgency of being expressed.  Read on, and if you feel the world is really beautiful, then tell me your story; about the time when you ran into beauty….

The gaiety of Saturday air could be felt everywhere around me. I was having a wonderful time at a shopping mall in Delhi. With no money and practically all windows shopped….I was left with lots of time and no work in hand. So it was obvious that I had to sit and kill time which is an amazing talent in itself. I consider myself talented, proficient and skilled in this field. While sitting in there waiting for a friend, I was eating and not looking at anything in particular when a child’s eyes caught my attention. He had a wide bright smile as he came running towards a lady watching him with exactly the same gleam and excitement on her face. The happiness in those eyes was contagious. It made me smile with them. Following the kid was a man, probably his dad. He was around 35, short, dark haired and good looking. Carrying a few shopping bags, he was coming towards his wife with an expression of genuine solace. But his walk was not normal. He had a significant limp and a sign of physical disability. They stood there for some time, shared a chocolate, listened to the kid and saw him take a few rounds while he ran to and fro making them feel good and joyous. There was something different in this picture. It was obvious but invisible. I tried to figure it out, but their smiles made everything else seem less important. And then just as I was about to get up and leave; the child tripped and fell down. I felt the rush to run up to him when I saw worry sweeping over the radiance on his parents’ face in just a truce. Their shopping bags fell right out of their hands and they moved forward to reach him. As they walked, I found myself frozen and blank. The thing I had not noticed till now flashed loud and clear. That lady before me, who loved her child like every other mother, who was proud of her whole and happy family, who had love and care brimming out of her blue eyes and dreams etched over her forehead….had a single arm. It was just one hand that supported her husband and helped him. The first thought that came to my mind was her walking slowly just to walk with him, but to my notice I saw that she had a hitch in her walk just like him. They reached their son and hugged him tight. An hour later I saw them moving out, twinkly and tired; the child hopping his way out in front of them. And that’s the moment, the instant when I heard myself say “beautiful”.  I had been saying the word for ages, but I had never felt it before. That’s what I was talking about….

I won’t say that you make me whole,

Or show you the brilliance of your role.

I don’t think it’s easy to deal….

I can’t give you reasons for everything I feel.

If they want to give a name to this,

Just let the silence speak….

And they’ll realise it when they see,

That when you are here, I am just “ME”…

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  1. kartik

    hey…really liked the article..keep up the good work..

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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