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Summer Holidays, Where “Dream” Is Just Another Word: Any Plans This Year?

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By Daphne Clarance:

Summer holidays are the best. They are like the TV commercials after a prolonged monotonous movie, a video game played by a 10 year-old after a day’s homework forced by his mother, it’s like David Phelps swimming in a clear ocean, or shopping spree for a shopaholic, or maybe a High School Musical movie for a teenager. They are those holidays that have the power to procrastinate project deadlines and homework. Whether you’re going for a tour or going for a relative’s wedding in a new city or just plunge into a rubber inflated swimming pool in the backyard, those days are kept like treasure. Those were the days when I went to three most beautiful places I have visited. It was a journey through trains and cars and buses like I was an Australian wildlife photographer searching for the right scenes.SAM_1324

The sky seemed a perfect blue with mystical sorts of white transparent bubbles bursting on my skin as my mom cried behind me to pull myself backwards or else the waves would just drag me into their unfathomed depth of water. It had been six years since I went on a holiday with the family and now I actually had time to embrace nature so purely and majestically. I was in Goa at the most amazing Calangaute Beach, which is often treated well with visitors throughout the year. And we were here in God’s glory of nature to engage our attention wherever we wanted, to collect naturally designed and seemingly large seashells near the sea shore. My dad took us to a quieter place where we just sat on the high raised sand mountain with careful attention (partly just to see our slippers weren’t washed in the sea). Sitting on the beach without even saying anything for hours was something even my mom couldn’t make me do. I thoroughly enjoyed the pulchritudinous gob-smacking biosphere of the sea and the horizon that was but a scene I always saw in the movies. As a family we never went on a holiday until that day when we spent two days and one night on a train and must I tell you, the wait was worth it. The grub was indeed fascinating to look at but not as fascinating to eat. There was one dish in particular though that we all loved. It’s called ‘Sarpataul’, which is a very different kind of fish very rarely found and eaten. We spent a day and a half at the beach just staring at the great wonders of nature, as we pushed ourselves to the next destination, Bangalore.SAM_1058

It would seem quite obvious for a Delhiite to transfer metropolitan thinking into this place, but I must tell you Bangalore is the best place for opportunities, hang-outs, visiting and growing. People there are quite fast-track but generous. The only barrier you see is language. It took us two hours only to explain the driver to take us to a place that was just two kilometres from the railway station. The city is clean and beautiful with glitterati everywhere. It has many streets that look like you are in New York City, with those old lamps on lampposts and neatly paved sidewalks. I was busy clicking photographs while we were on our way to Lalbagh Botanical Garden. I must say, the main attraction at that place were the trees that it preserved for so many years. Tree names were assigned to each, seeming as old as its name. There was a tree that looked like a giant in front of us since it was three hundred years old. I just couldn’t get enough of it. The fountains were great. We were riding in a CNG van as walking around the entire garden would take three hours. We had a guide who told us all sorts of things about the trees and plants with hybrid fruits and flowers. Half of the time I was just enjoying the magnanimity of the place and the canopy that surrounded the entire garden. It is a place that must be visited by every nature lover. I was appalled by the artistic way the branches were designed, the roots could be seen growing on the surface. After Goa, Bangalore is the right place to see ground and trees when you have a handful of days of plain open sky. We then left for our journey to Mysore, that I would call a place to settle in.2012-06-23 18.08.58

When it comes to rioting about food, scenery, weather and luxury, Mysore should be ticked on your places-to-roam list. Drinking coconut water after every hour and walking down the streets at night makes you feel never to leave this place. There might be nothing to visit but the city itself contains vibes of satisfaction. The one thing that Mysore is famous for is St. Philomena’s Church, the highest church in India, and the dancing Brindhavan Fountains. First, we went to see the famous grey St. Philomena’s Church that I had a hard time to get it into one frame for a photograph. Alas! Its peak was cut on the picture. The place smelt ancient and reminded me of Israel (that I saw in pictures on the television). The Brindhavan Garden was just a memorable visit I can never erase from my mind. With lushes of water gushing up towards the sky creating patterns congruent with the background music was just awesome. The music contained light music with tones of semi-classical and classical to tune up the mood and after full five minutes of swinging with instrumental tones of the sitar, sarangi, veena and tabla, the ten minutes were a sudden blow of pop music mainly film songs and then that immediate change of the water flow like a jazzing swing and swirling of patterns across each thin stream of water hitting through each other and forming dancing moves like you’re watching a movie along with music. I just couldn’t capture any picture as it started at night and me with a digicam, it was difficult getting enough light to see. The only thing visible was the fountain dancing with colourful lights. Mysore wasn’t at all a disappointment as I thought it would be. It has people who have the civic sense of crossing roads and not littering the ground. The one thing that really amuses is that the place is quite cheap. The grub is almost the same but with South Indian food which one would taste across entire South India.SAM_1315

Summer holidays are a time to go out and explore. One should bury all troubles and tensions and free themselves from the terrors of workload. With these three wonderful places that I saw were pictures in frames hanging on the wall of the living room. Never to be forgotten.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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