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“Just Draw”

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By Shruti Sharma:

Inspiration For An ArtistWhen I first started drawing, I’d doodle for hours on end, draw impossibly unrealistic things and never really wait around for ‘inspiration’. Inspiration – that big word that artists use to often avoid doing things.

As I grew up, I started pursuing art and fancied myself an artist. And I too fell into that trap wherein, I’d stare at walls and trees waiting for inspiration. I’d waste hours, hoping that an idea would plop itself into my lap and that one idea wouldn’t be mediocre; it’d be transcendent.

I went to college to study design and like any self-respecting designer, I’d put off working until the absolute last minute because I believed ‘stress’ made me work better. I believed that that moment of panic before I had a project due was when I’d get my best ideas. I, like a lot of other people, used clever excuses to justify my laziness.

It wasn’t until my final year of college after a particularly disappointing uninspired project that I realized that I’d run short on time because I’d spent so long waiting. And so I promised myself that I wouldn’t wait for inspiration and that I’d draw every single day. However, being a by-product of this generation, my short-term attention span ensured that I didn’t make it beyond a week into that promise. I got tired, I felt ‘uninspired’. I made that excuse again.

13187635_10153628049915998_1597733545_nAnd then one day, I met this illustrator in a coffee shop who made me find a constant fountain of inspiration. I saw him drawing in his journal while he drank bitter black coffee and thought I should say hello, which is, as anyone who knows me can tell you, very painfully awkward to watch. As we struck up conversation, I asked him how he managed to draw constantly, not feel saturated or used up and he asked me why I couldn’t, so I explained my current slump, my lack of inspiration and he smiled. He said he’d tell me his secret, if I promised to try out his method and I willingly agreed, for by that point I felt like I’d exhausted all my creativity.

He gave me a piece of paper and asked me to draw, to just start, and as I drew, he asked me to tune out everyone else and focus on that one thing that was on my mind and to express it through art. He told me that he never waited for inspiration, for why would he when he could inspire himself?

When he could tell his story, express his feelings and talk about what mattered to him and the people around him. Why wait for inspiration when it was brimming out of every person and thing around him?

tumblr_o1kpftXZ2W1v5fltgo4_500And there it was, my moment of epiphany. I’ve never been more surprised and more in agreement with anything in my life. If there ever was a man that should have written a book, it was that man, for everything he said made perfect sense and his perception of things changed mine.

It’s been since that I’ve viewed every aspect of my life as some form of a narrative that I would express through my art, everything I create being my means to communicate with the people around me. My art has been my perception of the outside world, what I imagine feelings look like, what forms they take, what colours they’ll be.

I do draw every day now, I draw fights I have with my parents, I draw my menstrual cramps, I draw out my dilemmas, my joys, my experiences and those of the people around me. I bend over my journals till I resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is a little extreme and then proceed to spend an hour stretching out my resentful muscles.

Art is how I cope with things, catharsis in its truest form. I have yet to develop a fixed style because it changes from angry bursts of colour to calmer soothing tones, from frenzied lines to smooth curves, for each time something happens in my life it changes a small aspect of me as a person. Every event in my life has shaped my art in that moment in time.

For me, art is a constant, my style or what I create is not, for what I create is an expression of myself, and I change every second, every hour, every day.

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We are building an active platform for filmmakers, photographers, designers and artists to share their work. Write to me at rachit@youthkiawaaz.com if you would like to feature your work on Youth Ki Awaaz.

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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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