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The Importance Of Dreaming, Love And All Things Beautiful

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As someone who prizes meditation and thoughts, I often tend to come upon thoughts that help me understand myself and see the world through a different eye. While they may look random, they are, in fact, byproducts of my own mind and heart. You may connect to some and not to others, but the underlying intent of these nuggets is to make you stop and ponder. You never realise how charming and smart your brain can be until you share a private moment with it. Here’s a journal of my fleeting but heartwarming thoughts…

The Importance Of Happiness

Happiness, to me, seems to be a mixed bag of acknowledging our gifts, giving, and listening to others.

A gift to oneself: The little joyous moments that you gift yourself while composing poetry, listening to your favourite music, reading your collection of ‘best wishes’ cards or even just thinking about someone that makes you happy – goes a long way. When we fill up our own lives with joy, our feelings of abundance naturally spill over into everyone else’s lives as well. We owe this little time to ourselves to make our life beautiful.

A gift to others: Happiness is also about giving things to each other every day – an act of love, writing a letter to the special people in your life, cooking a loved one’s favourite dish or even complimenting someone.

I believe it is unwise to believe that we are giving, when all we are interested in, is getting. Nothing causes greater unhappiness than the conviction that we are not getting enough.

Once you start giving your love away, you will be amazed at how happy you can become. I have never expected anything in return to what I give others. I feel that is why perhaps, I’ve been fortunate to have few close friends around me, in different countries and cities. Friends, whom I have met through work; whom I have come to care and trust and have become good friends over the years.

The art of listening is another form of happiness. There is no such thing as a completely worthless conversation. If we care for someone, we will be attentive to what they say, even if they seem disjointed or confused. This, in turn, will deepen the warmth of our relationship and invite happiness. The world can be a lot better, if only we listen more.

The Importance Of One’s Background

Where we grow up and with whom embeds in us, a great deal of who we later become. I grew up in a family of distinct tradition and cultures. I was born to a Khasi mother and a Muslim father. I believe this contrast, propelled by the differences between two cultures and traditions, gave me an early insight into cultural diversity and coexistence.

My professional career, as a social entrepreneur for 25 years, requires me to travel to different countries of the world. While my Khasi matrilineal background made me more independent, it also made me more flexible towards the Western culture and lifestyle.

My Islamic background, on the other hand, helped me attain a natural flair to deal with different cultural environments in my professional career as a social entrepreneur. Years before I became an entrepreneur, I was accompanying my grandmother and mother to the markets bordering Meghalaya and Bangladesh for their business.

I was interacting with people and entrusting myself easily, to a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Later, with the Leadership Training Services (LTS) in school, and even later at Impulse NGO Network (INGON), I was ready to meet and greet anyone who could help augment my passion to help others. Nothing intimidated me because it was different.

Travelling, too, became the most natural thing for me to do. In my journey to different places for work, I would find similarities to my own culture and feel the warmth of home. While the Paris streets made me remember Shillong, the traditional shrimp chutney at the Ko Samui island of Surat Thani, Thailand reminded me of the Garo dry fish chutney called ‘nakham’ or the Khasi soya bean one called ‘tung-tap’. The islanders even chew betel nuts, like the Khasis.

This is but just one anecdote. There have been other experiences when I have felt akin to the world as a global citizen. I believe that in this, my background unconsciously prepared me to open my arms to a globally mixed culture and to be comfortable in it.

The Importance Of Dreaming

Dreaming and imagination are important aspects of everyone’s lives. Of course, sharing them with someone who doesn’t appreciate it may scatter them into endless fragments. Some rather pragmatic people have told me how futile it is to have expectations and that dreams may crash easily on the hard floors of life.

But they also fail to perceive that the world’s wonders began by being someone’s dreams. If they hadn’t sought out such an impossible wish, the world today wouldn’t be what it is. Dreams offer a beginning, by showing the goals one would want to strive for.  A dreamer, therefore, not only widens imaginative horizons; but believes ‘the impossible’ to be a reality and strives to make it so. Without such dreams, our world of cynicism and crude materialism would have no hope to exist.

The Importance Of Love

Love is a positive emotion. Although one pays handsomely if one loses it, life is always richer for those who have faith in love. It forges the bond between mind and soul, and the individuals who pull us out of the drudgery of everyday living. If we look around, we’ll see how we are losing out on this faith every day. Hate comes easily to us than love. We prefer to slit throats for our selfish needs. What we need today is to understand the value and importance of loving each other and that such an understanding would unleash our latent power to ensure a brighter future.

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  1. Sahaj Desai

    Nice Article

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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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