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A Few Words To Help You Heal As We Struggle Together

Dear You,

There’s so much relatability among souls in this world – it gives you hope and it gives you happiness. Your words heal me, and maybe my words might help you get through a tough day. Observing your own self is the first thing to do when you feel like it’s the end of the world. Know yourself. Look at it, look at the patterns, trace the changes and see the transitions.

I used to wear a lot of accessories. Especially my favourite ring, a promise ring that I and my friend shared on her birthday. Junk jewellery made me so happy that I couldn’t wait to pair them up with outfits. And suddenly (or gradually), I stopped wearing them till those tiny jhumkas annoyed me. And, the rings became something strange to my eyes.

I used to laugh a lot. There was one word common to all definitions about me – energetic. And imagine how I felt when I saw my energy drain away, till it erased from my self. Someone who hopped all day, only wanted to sit now.

Letters. I was crazy about them. Random letters to your close ones, telling them how amazing they make me feel would make me so happy. All of that stopped, in some cases, it became a forced effort.

Sleeping was still easy, it was waking up that took all of my willpower. Someone who was always smiling and jumping after every nap, was now reluctant to open her eyes. It was hard, very hard.

Your eyes are squeezed. They refuse to open. Your bones are so tired, they’ve almost broken. Your legs refuse to move, your body aches. I did not cut off, but I found myself cribbing all day. I became selective, so selective sometimes that it was just one person I had a conversation with in my entire day. That person was sometimes my landlord aunty, or a college friend or my own self. Anxiety. It takes a toll on you. As I write this paragraph, I do not know if the next moment will bring all the feelings of worthlessness in me – super drained eyes, a forced smile, watery eyes, shaky fingers and sometimes a clouded head.

I read a lot. No, not books. Smaller posts. Posts about your mental health. Posts about NOT giving up. Poems about pain and grief. Poems about men and women and their world, posts about how there is greater sorrow, and mine is nothing. And there were days when I couldn’t read. Not a single word. Days when my pending assignments failed to move me (I was an extremely punctual person).

I remember I used to write a lot. It kept me sane or rather insane. I was looking for something. An answer, a path, a direction, a closure, my career, my dreams – I didn’t know. But something. Something that was lost, that was blurred, that was so far I cried to have it. My illness kicked in. It took almost a month to recover from a viral fever. My room became my world and somehow it wasn’t my world. I was still looking for something.

This open letter to you isn’t a story I wish to tell you and bore you out, I wish to tell you how important it is to observe your own self. It took me time. A lot of time before I realised how much I wanted to laugh and love and visit places and have chai and read books and study and meet people.

I considered seeing a therapist but somehow thought I wasn’t that depressed. No dark circles yet. No scars on my body. No cutting off from people or uncombed hair for weeks. I do not know what it was. I do not know what it is. All I know is that this moment has brought me to open my eyes. It’s rare. So this moment helped me write this letter.

I’m still searching for something. I’m still a stranger to my rings. I’m still waiting to laugh and hop around. I will, I know. Or I will never, I do not know.

But when life goes out of my bones, I remember some faces wanting me in their life. When eyes refuse to open, I see my parents and their love. This doesn’t happen every day. You’re not this positive every day. But I try to, with the last bit of energy left in my body, with the scarred leftovers of my soul, I try to crawl. You can, yes, you can. Not every day, yes, but on some days. Keep doing that. On black and white days, you’ll find greys if not all the colours.

Talk, try talking to yourself. Write if you can. Read a line. Walk a little. Worthlessness isn’t a worthy feeling, it’s only you who can kick it out. No, you’re not fine and no, this isn’t easy. While I’m still struggling, this is my story. Hope it helps you move your parts when you feel there’s nothing left.


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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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