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Where The Govt. Fails, These 7 NGOs Are Doing Amazing Things To Help People

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In the last two years, since the International Intelligence Bureau records were infamously leaked, more and more NGOs in India have lost out on foreign funding for being ‘anti-development’ and allegedly lacking transparency in operations. At least nine NGOs had their funding cancelled in 2015, and to date, many organisations that deserve to be recognised for their commendable work, are losing out on funding as well, the most recent being Navsarjan Trust, founded by Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan.

Even in 2017, we cannot deny that social inequality is a stark reality in our society, and the massive work, resources and manpower required to address this, cannot be done without civil society. There are several NGOs that deserve recognition, volunteership and donation, and lose out on it because of the general negative opinions surrounding civic society bodies in the country. Given the massive inequalities that they bridge, it’s high time the public recognises their contributions and gives them due credit for it.

Here are 7 NGOs in India doing a kick-ass job of bringing positive on-ground change and impacting diverse social groups:

1. For Children At Construction Sites: Mobile Crèches

Image sourced from Mobile Creches

Bringing light into the lives of children born to migrant workers, Mobile Crèches offers education, nutrition and healthcare to many of society’s most vulnerable members. It was born out of the ideology that all children deserve a fighting chance at building a future. What made a humble debut as a single crèche in Delhi, has since expanded to include units in slums of Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. This dedicated team of do-gooders has impacted the lives of more than a million children across India since its inception more than 40 years ago.

Mobile Crèches welcomes individual and group volunteers. Interested? Here’s where you can find out more.

2. For Empowering The Girl Child: Project Nanhi Kali

Image sourced from Project Nanhi Kali

In India, 50% girls drop out of primary schools and more than 70% drop out during their secondary education. That means, millions of girls have their wings clipped even before they can do something with their lives.To counter this, Project Nanhi Kali, managed jointly by the K.C. Mahindra Trust and Naandi Foundation, has has set up special Academic Support Centres across 10 states in India, where girls are given much-needed additional guidance in concepts of Math, Science and languages. Additionally, the project also supports girls by providing them with necessary material support to complete their education, and organises regular intervention progra`mmes to bring down dropout rates. Till date, Project Nanhi Kali has directly impacted the lives of over 100,000 girls in India!

Project Nanhi Kali welcomes support from individuals and corporates. Find out more, here.

3. Fighting Stigma Around HIV/AIDS: Naz Foundation (India) Trust

Image sourced from Naz Foundation

India has the third-largest number of HIV/AIDS affected patients in the world, according to a UN report. Given the high rate of social stigma and ignorance surrounding sexual health in our society, Naz Foundation (India) Trust was initiated to empower and improve the lives of those diagnosed HIV positive, as well as spread awareness about STDs and reduce the number of cases.

Based out of New Delhi, Naz Foundation conducts a range of programmes to generate this awareness, specifically among India’s LGBTQ+ community and additionally offers home-based support to HIV+ patients. The NGO is also one of the organisations at the forefront of the struggles against Section 377 in India and strongly advocates for the rights of India’s queer community. In a country where gender and sexuality are taboo subjects, Naz India’s efforts are both absolutely essential, as well as commendable.

You too can help with Naz India’s initiatives. Know more, here.

4. Fighting Manual Scavenging, India’s National Shame: Safai Karmachari Andolan

Image sourced from Safai Karmachari Andolan

To date, India has a sizeable chunk of population that is forced into the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. These numbers are underreported and often disputed, and disturbingly, manual scavenging happens even in big government institutions such as the Indian Railways. The Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) is a nationwide movement that aims to completely eradicate this caste-based occupation, and rallies for the rehabilitation of scavengers towards dignified livelihoods. Initiated in 1995, the SKA has so far succeeded in ridding over 139 districts of India of the practice of manual scavenging, as of 2009. In a society that is still not free from the clutches of the Brahmanical caste system, SKA’s contributions are the need of the hour.

You too, can be a part of the movement to eradicate India’s national shame of manual scavenging. Find out how, here.

5. Fighting For The Rights Of Sex Workers: Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee

Image sourced from DMSC

There are over 6 lakh registered sex workers in India. Historically, the profession has been looked down upon, and to date, there is a lot of social stigma attached to it. Because of lack of regulation, sex workers in India are subject to unfair working conditions, violence and exploitation. The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) is an NGO based in Kolkata that advocates for the human and professional rights of sex workers, and rallies for their dignity and safety. Representing over 65,000 sex workers, the DMSC has its hand in a range of initiatives including health and education, to vocational training and anti-trafficking. The NGO is one of the frontrunner organisations leading the fight for regulation in India’s sizeable sex worker community.

You can do your bit to speak up for the rights of sex workers in India, too. Know more, here.

6. Fighting For LGBTQ+ Rights: Udaan Trust

Image by Zabeeh Afaque/Hindustan Times via Getty Images, for representation only

The Indian LGBTQ+ community has always had to live in the shadows because of social stigma and ostracism. However, since Section 377 was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013, the situation has become even graver for anyone whose sexuality and sexual orientation deviate from the so-called “norm”. Udaan Trust is based out of Maharashtra and focuses on the importance of sexual health among homosexual and trans communities in India. Another area of focus for the and importance of awareness about alternative sexualities, which is paramount in the current system of complete silencing around these topics. This NGO provides a range of support services to improve the state of India’s sexual health and awareness by organising condom distributions, counselling and sex education programmes. In a system that augments the spread of sexual and mental health disorders through the silencing of identities, Udaan Trust’s initiatives are paramount in securing the future of India’s queer community.

7. For The Well-being Of Our Elderly: Agewell Foundation India

Image sourced from Agewell India- Facebook

At present, India has an 80 million-strong population of senior citizens, a number that is expected to grow to 300 million by 2050. Ageing in India is not easy, with many of India’s elderly destitute and unable to care for themselves. Further, there is a lot of stigma attached with the idea of old-age homes and other caregiving facilities, making it doubly hard for individuals to age in a happy, healthy manner.

Agewell Foundation India works towards the empowerment and betterment of this strata of our society and build a future where ageing is happier, healthier and safer process, free of incorrect perceptions, violence and suffering. The foundation offers healthcare and support, medical equipment distribution, employment exchange, and has a dedicated helpline for the elderly to contact during emergencies. Assisting over 25,000 senior citizens of the country on a daily basis, Agewell Foundation India has to its credit that it is one of the few foundations enjoying special consultative status with the United Nations.

You too, can help secure and improve the lives of thousands of India’s elderly citizens. Here’s where you can find out how.

This is a small list of the 31 lakh NGOs spread out across the length and breadth of our country, tackling various social issues, one at a time. In a community of such diversity where 1% of the population holds 58% of the entire country’s wealth, it is important to acknowledge the role and significance of civic society in promoting equality and justice. Moreover, the sheer number of NGOs in our society trigger the one aspect of our own personalities that are most required to balance the scales: compassion. So, the next time you consider an internship, donation or volunteering, why not consider an NGO?

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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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