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How Can We Expect Kids To Go Out And Play When The Air Has Become Unbreathable?

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WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

By Khushi Mishra:

Walking through the corridors of F.R.I, Dehradun as a 12-year-old, I remember having endless fun with my friends after the school bell would ring. I recall waiting for my school bus or ‘shaktiman’ to drop us home which was about an hour from my school. After getting down from the massive army vehicle, there was still some walking left until I finally got home. Alongside the footpath, off the main road, leading to our homes, were the mulberry trees. My friends and I would pluck mulberry, eating and enjoying ourselves until we finally reached home. It would be three-o’clock by the time I would get back home.

Barely staying at home for an hour or two, all the kids in the neighbourhood including myself would gather in our summer clothes, heading out of our house on cycles. From pithoo to Badminton to hide and seek, cycling and swimming in the hot summer weeks, we would endlessly play around, smeared in sweat, mud and joy.

As I reminisce about my summer breaks, I am reminded of the times when my mother had to send my elder sibling to drag me back home. Other kids in the neighbourhood were no less than me.

Fast forward 15 years later, while sitting on my cushy couch at home in New Delhi, I do not enjoy the same privilege of running around in the afternoon. I don’t see that liveliness in the evening, instead, a deadly silence wherein everyone is indoors. Today, I think twice before planning to go out with friends.

A sheer amount of air pollution has taken a toll on everybody; I see no kids at 5 p.m playing in the park as I peek from my balcony. It is not something strange to me when I feel the wrath of scorching sun and blanket of heatwaves and dust storms engulfing me from all sides. It is now easy to digest the fact that kids don’t come out of their homes as a result.

Delhi air has been time and again described as hazardous by various national and international agencies.

The climate has increasingly become hostile. There are people who might challenge me saying “kids these days are glued to their phones all the time”, however, they disregard the fact that the weather these days does not allow them to explore anything out of their homes till it is suitable enough. When the mercury hits 46 degrees in the afternoon and no less than 41 in the night, it’s time we stop blaming the smartphones and look around the menace that we have created. It can get mundane sitting at home at a stretch for hours, I can only imagine the plight of 10-year-old left with no option.

We are experiencing a climate emergency and it is essential for us to contain the aggregate world temperature within 1.5 degrees. Now, why on earth is it so important to maintain it within 1.5 degrees? This year alone, several parts of the world battered  the extreme weather events in some form or the other; be it heat waves or drought in Europe and China, forest fires in the US, dust storms and unprecedented rainfall in parts of India, including historically high rainfall in Kerala and high precipitation in Japan and other island nations. This is the status of extreme climatic changes when we only managed to achieve a 1-degree rise in aggregate world temperature. We have already hit a 1-degree mark and it has penalised us with the loss of lives.

Globally, environment enthusiasts and scientists are exploring the depths of the warming temperatures. With fishes of the Atlantic travelling across the ocean from the south pole to invade the arctic, the ecosystem is constantly changing. This migration of the southern fishes of Antarctica to the north pole in the arctic disrupts the native arctic food chain and is also shrinking its habitat. As the ocean temperature is on a rise, the Atlantic fishes are heading north to escape the warming temperature of the Atlantic in hope for a much cooler ocean in the arctic. These southern fishes are not mere invaders but climate refugees instead.

Researchers across the world have estimated that the rate at which the ocean is warming has only doubled in the past decade. The sea ice is melting drastically with each day passing by. As the world temperature rises, so does the sea level as a result of melting snow. It is expected to push millions back to poverty again and might bring with it instability in the most erratic times.

Back in the days, we would wait for the monsoons to get over, now we beg for the monsoons to arrive. What an irony!

 

Khushi Mishra- Author

Khushi Mishra is an intern at Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group. Her core areas of interest include researching and depicting the same graphically.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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