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COVID-19: “The World Is Running On People And Their Kindness”

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Editor’s Note: This post is a part of #EveryOneCounts, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children, to spark conversations around how in the fight against the coronavirus, everyone counts, and every voice, every action can make a difference. Join the campaign and publish your story here.

In times of such unprecedented crisis, when the international community is under strain and the world is striving to defeat the unforeseen rise of ‘the virus’, what’s running the world?  The universal language of corona? The virus that has pervaded into our daily lives, normalising anxiety, panic and isolation, has definitely pushed our boundaries of our thoughts, actions and words.

We’re experiencing something so saddening but also universal at the same time. The untamed energy of universality seems to be reaching out to us in diverse ways. While we all struggle to adjust amidst the conundrums of the lockdown, inexplicable toilet paper rush and social distancing, we seem to be revisiting a lost art — the art of kindness!

I do not speak with heightened optimism, but such is the beauty of reality in times of the crisis. The economy is running on kindness, and we are all in it. This long pause right now in the world, can you feel it, where the world is not running under any economic prowess or political diplomacy? The misery of the developed and underdeveloped countries is alike. A wealth of resources or not, we’re all fighting the unknown and accepting uncertainty.

If it’s not money that’s making the health practitioners work relentlessly day in and day out to save lives, if it’s not political diplomacy that is seeking international cooperation, if it’s not free trade that’s not enraging people on border control, then what is it?

It’s the people.

While we all struggle to adjust amidst the conundrums of the lockdown, inexplicable toilet paper rush and social distancing, we seem to be revisiting a lost art — the art of kindness!

We are putting people first. We are putting each other first by practising kindness. For all the care in the world, we are doing social distancing. We are taking care of our hygiene, for the sake of others. Oh well, we are not even complaining (okay, maybe a little) about not being able to meet each other.

The absolute liberty to just stay on the internet is making us ache for some social interaction. If we could run the world on such acts of kindness, not embedded within the virtue of greed, what a wonderful world would this look like? Imagine, if we put the planet first, just like this?

Can we not keep this kindness going? I am not saying we should practice overwhelming generosity or compassion. That’s probably hard-earned and scarcely learned. I am simply talking about simple acts of kindness. Let’s start with the basic barter system. Let’s be kind because we expect kindness in return. Would that be a good start?

You must think I am rambling. Are we shy to be kind then? It’s not a virtue, an emotion or feeling of passion. It’s an act that some of us might think, we are performing it. You don’t have to do anything or be anyone to do it, you just have to be. We don’t know yet in what beautiful ways we’re countering the ripple effect of the corona, with the ripple effect of kindness. You probably started with yourself, to be kind to yourself, and then to all those whom you love.

Now, make this circle of caring a little bigger; start with your community, your country, your religion, maybe this Earth? I know it’s hard. It’s hard to let go of everything you’re holding on to, and easier to limit your care and protection to a small circle as it suits you. But we’re all doing it now. Standing outside in our balconies, playing songs for each other, and applauding for our healthcare workers. The sense of gratitude that comes with acts of kindness, it’s not hard!

Not convinced yet? Maybe let’s use Pascal’s wager to this. If you believe in continuing the kindness, and it works well for the world, it’s a win-win. And if you don’t, and it works, you lose so much more.

To not be kind to one another when we face collective anxiety and depression is a sad thought. We want more people like you — virus or not. You, who wouldn’t meet your parents after a trip from Italy, even though your heart aches for a mother’s hug. You, who wouldn’t take the train because you have a cough, even though you are young and healthy and know it’s just a flu. You, who wouldn’t leave the country you are stranded in because you know the impact of mobility right now.

Yes, some of us are stupid and have to be told. But we learn. You are performing an act of kindness and someone is performing one for you too. That’s the kind of world I want to live in and that’s where we see us headed. Do you?

We don’t need to start again, we need to change the way we do things.

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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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