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How A Medical Emergency Taught Me The Importance Of Helping Others

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Can you count the number of times you felt ‘hopeless’ in your life? The answer to this will differ for each one of us. At some level, it will be related to the privileges you enjoy.

According to Google, hopeless means ‘feeling or causing despair’ and similar to ‘desperate’, ‘dejected’ and others. However, I can tell you with a guarantee, that the meaning goes deeper than that.

First, let me answer the earlier question, then I will dig deeper into the feeling of hopelessness. I have genuinely felt hopeless only once in my life as of now, and that too, just one month back, when I was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). (You can read more about its causes and symptoms here, just for your information).

On the same day, around the time of the jam, I got cramps in my abdomen and lower back. Representational image.

Let me give you context to what happened, that made me put the hopeless feeling into words.

My office is in Udyog Vihar, Gurugram (opposite to cyber hub) and residence in Najafgarh (Yes, I travel this distance every day like thousands of others).

If you stay or work in Delhi NCR, then I’m sure the massive traffic jam day at the Gurugram toll is still fresh in your memory.

On the same day, around the time of the jam, I got cramps in my abdomen and lower back, I felt a burning sensation while urinating, felt like vomiting and there was bloody urine. Pretty much all the symptoms of a UTI.

In the beginning, I thought to manage for the day and go for check-up after office. Anyhow, the pain got worse by the afternoon.

While I started to think of taking a leave, I found out about the traffic jam, which meant, even if I wanted to head home, I couldn’t. This added to my already increasing anxiety.

On second thought, I decided to go to a clinic/hospital, but there are hardly any clinics/hospitals near my office, which I could reach in 10-15 min.

Nonetheless, I was able to locate an army clinic nearby and decided to go there. Once I got there with all my optimism, and the proud feeling of being so self-dependent, I was denied access, since I didn’t have the appropriate card required to access the facility. (By this time, the pain had reached its peak and I could hardly stand or speak). 

With that, I realised this was my last place to get help and even that hope was banished. There are no words that can explain the feeling of hopelessness I felt.

It was as if I would die in the moment, not because of the pain, but due to that feeling of ‘no hope for help’. Believe me, unless you feel it, you won’t know. I hope no one ever has to feel that.) 

All these feelings came out with my tears and I started to beg them to give me medicine. I was ready to pay for it but I just needed help.

After 15 minutes of convincing them that they were my last hope, and after some crying, they took pity on me and decided to do a check-up. However, they made sure to tell me that they are only helping based on humanitarian reasons and I would not be welcomed again, without the required card. 

In the end, I got the help I needed, but that feeling of hopelessness is still with me.

This has kept me thinking about the lakhs of people who must feel the same when looking for help, especially during a medical emergency.

What I felt at that moment, might not even be 1% of what some have to go through every single day of their lives, who are not as fortunate as I am.

It only makes me feel miserable, but at the same time, it also made me realise how important it is to help and be there for people during their vulnerable periods; even if it means letting go of important meetings, movies, outing or anything else.

Many times on the way to the office, a meeting or an outing, if we cross any person asking for help, we put our head down and act like we’ve not seen that person.

I know I have done that, and later, I try to justify the guilt by believing that someone else must have surely helped. (Yes, there are exceptions).

My father always says we should help people whenever we can, in whatever capacity we can and yes, it might not turn out good sometimes but most times, it will.

To confess, whenever I have helped someone, there has always been one part of me which holds me back. My parents call it ‘Kalyug’, the “Age of Downfall”, which is supposedly the final era in the spiritual evolution of man.

That’s the reason humans have become self-consumed with the only worry about their own well being and status. This is not entirely wrong, I feel the sense of community is getting away from people, especially in urban areas.

However, I have learned that one needs to let go and take chances on people as someday, someone will take chances on us, maybe when we need it the most. I hope that all of us realise the need to help each other sooner than later.

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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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