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Take A Break. Relax. Read. Go To Find Yourself At Honey Valley

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By Gautam S Kumar:

Kodagu has been long regarded as one of ‘the‘ tourist destinations towards the south of the country. A hill station on the Western Ghats, it is a destination primarily popular for the Buddhist settlement at Bylakuppe. But what impressed me most about the district wasn’t the magnificent golden temple, or the pristine Talakaveri (Place where the river Kaveri originates). It is a home stay off the city (or rather above the city) away from most of human civilization, that I found bliss in.

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Honey Valley is a home stay at Kabinakkad in Kodagu district in Karnataka. Formerly the largest producer of honey in the world, the facility has been converted to a home stay since 1994 after a disease killed off most of the bees in the area. Honey Valley does not offer its visitors with adventure sports, or luxury treatment like many of its rival home stays in Kodagu, what it does offer is something way more valuable and something that one can never get enough of, inner peace. Successfully creating an atmosphere for a peaceful ‘minimalistic‘ stay. A standard room in a cottage in the valley comes with a bed and just one light bulb in the centre of the room for lighting. And surprisingly, it more than serves its purpose. All the electricity used in the valley is produced within it, using energy from the numerous waterfalls.

Activities at the valley include exploring the jungle around it, and just relaxing and unwinding. Even the most restless of souls is sure to find peace at this divine location. With the only sounds one hears being the soothing sounds emanating from the jungle, the valley provides the perfect atmosphere to just sit and think. They have a library where guests are allowed to borrow any number of books to read during their stay. With minimum distractions and all the time in the world, it is heaven on Earth for everyone and anyone who loves a good read (I’d personally recommend reading the collection of Richard Bach novella they have at their library).

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Arguably, the best part about Honey Valley is its animals. Not the ones in the jungle, but the ones inside the settlement like the cows and dogs (especially the dogs). The dogs that one comes across here are as friendly and love-able as any. From just keeping you company when you read to voluntarily acting as your personal tour guide as you explore the jungle they manage to make your stay all the more pleasant. Each dog has its own story to tell and it is amazing how good they are with all the guests. And one can’t help but feel safer with a dog leading the way when one goes exploring into the jungle. Amazingly, whichever dog is on ‘guide — duty‘ ensures that one isn’t lost and accompanies the explorers wherever they go while maintaining a distance (Something most of their human counterparts around the world should learn from).

No description about a home stay would be complete without something about their food. And with Honey Valley, you get the best food in all of Kodagu (although a bit overpriced). Kodagu is famous for its ‘panni-curry'(pork gravy) and pork roast and I would recommend the pork at Honey Valley to anyone with a ‘meat-tooth’. The meat is cooked to perfection and almost melts in one’s mouth. Their avocado fruit salad is also worth a mention. The food is prepared on an on-demand basis and is served lavishly. For vegetarians, sadly the food might come off as a bit disappointing with Kodagu being proud of its meat and not so proud of its vegetables. The home stay offers breakfast lunch and dinner along with snacks (sandwiches, French fries) to munch on in between meals when one is busy reading.

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The owners of the Valley are also a bunch of warm and friendly people (the older ones are quite chatty too) and will make one feel like they are among long lost relatives. Honey Valley thus offers everyone a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. By providing the guests with the best that nature can offer, refreshingly clean air, a peaceful environment and serene surroundings the valley provides its guest something most places can’t even dream of, peace. So take a break. Have a cup of coffee. Relax and be one with yourself at Honey Valley.

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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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