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What I Learned From Being A Fundraiser For The March Against Bride Trafficking

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The March Against Bride Trafficking 2018 has started from Korbi Anlong in Assam and is now en route to its final destination in Shimla. Every day is full of learning! To make this march possible, many people have contributed in their own way. Ms Durga Dingri organised a small fundraiser. This article talks about her experience of the fundraiser.

Ms Durga Dingri is a freelance journalist, writer and a Radio Jockey with TORI (Teluguone Radio on Internet). She is fond of making jewellery with beads, gemstones, pearls, metal etc. She currently lives in the US with her family, her husband and two kids. She has been fighting Pancreatitis since 1994. Though it’s a painful disease she has chosen to keep herself busy with various activities. With the same hopeful determination, she has been in touch with Empower People since 2013, and this year, when she heard about the March, she decided to do something to support it and empower as many people possible.

We may think of Facebook as a platform to share updates and statuses. However, for Ms Durga, it was Facebook that introduced her to Shafiq Ur Rehman Khan, the founder of Empower People. After an interaction with him, she went and read everything that was there on its official website.

Ms Durga says, “When I read the stories of women who were trafficked, tortured, treated like slaves, I was boiling with rage and at the same time I was gripped with immense sadness. I wanted to write about this fight against bride trafficking. I wanted people to become aware of this issue. I interviewed Mr Khan for Teluguone website, which is available in English and Telugu. As I wanted to reach more readers we did the interview in English, in 2013.”

When asked about her involvement in March she says, “Generally, I post pictures of my handmade jewellery via Instagram. One day while posting such a picture, I came across Empower People’s campaign about supporting the March Against Bride Trafficking. People were posting their photos holding a placard. I immediately participated. I felt good for some time but I knew I wasn’t going to stop just there. knew that the march would cover ten states which include many villages, towns, cities and would create awareness about Bride Trafficking by conducting workshops.

I realised that such a huge undertaking would require equally more amount of funds. That is when I decided to put my idea of raising funds through my handmade jewellery into action. I contacted Mr Khan regarding the same. After his approval, I started working on my idea, coordinating with Ms Reema Thunderbolt, a member of Empower People. Ms Reema became pivotal in encouraging me and connecting me to the other members of Empower People.”

She further explains, “Once the decision was made, I started contacting people about the handmade jewellery show for the March Against Bride Trafficking with the hashtag #MABT2018 via social media. I created an event on FB and invited all my friends. We planned the event to be on March 3, 2018, from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Later, we extended the time as I would be home. Later, my friend Swapna joined ime and we also decided to host the sale at her house. We both contacted our friends, family and colleagues and spread the word in our neighbourhood.

Finally, we hosted the sale on March 3 and 4. In the two days of fundraising, we sold just a few pieces of jewellery. We got almost $300 but that’s not what we were expecting. It was disappointing.  However, my own bracelets said “HOPE”, so giving up was not a question. Considering all the things that might have been a hindrance, we decided to keep the setup of the sale in my living room for two weeks. We asked people to order online and send in cheques. We kept reminding few of the people who were keen on donating. We knew every penny was going to help. By the time we finished, we had raised ₹71000. Though we wanted to raise more, we were happy with the amount we had received. I sent the leftover special bracelets made for the event to Ms Reema to sell them and use the fund for the March.”

She shares her unique and touching experiences in the event. She reminisces “During the event, I shared my disappointment regarding the sale on my radio show. One of my colleagues and Facebook friend Swathi Navodayam called and donated $100. She further encouraged me by saying, ‘If these kinds of things are easy to do, everyone will do it. But they are not. You have decided to do a good thing. Just keep at it. Maybe, right now, people are not showing interest, but slowly they’ll understand. You shouldn’t give up. It’s a good cause! Just think of what if it happens to our daughters and how it would affect us… So, don’t stop, keep going! Just follow your dreams dear!’  One of my other close friends had a death in their family in India. I didn’t think it right to disturb them during such a time. However, when he came to know how hard we are struggling he wrote a cheque of $100.”

She concludes by saying, “This fundraiser would not have been possible without all the friends and family, especially my husband, Sriniwas, who came forward to help. I am excited about MABT2018. I sincerely wish it becomes a great success. I consider it my responsibility to understand the suffering of my fellow human beings and urge others to do the same.”

Empower People has launched an online crowdfunding campaign for supporting the March Against Bride Trafficking. You can visit the link here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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