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Mother’s Day: “While The World Fights, I Long To Be By Your Side, Mamma”

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“Kya hai mamma, aap kyun tension lete ho, sab theek hai, mamma (What happened Mom? Why are you tensed? Everything is alright, mom).”

I stop, trying hard lest my tears of desperation, frustration and helplessness stumble before you as I make a video call. And as always, I lose. Not because I can’t stop myself, but because you have figured it all out — the invisible sensors that detect everything about me. The sensors that are defiant of distance, words and physical presence; their only fuel is your unconditional love. The circuitry of this awe-striking mechanism is known alone to the All-Mighty.

For the past four years, I have lived thousands of miles away from you, of course, except when I would come home elated. Unlike others, it was never your food that lured me to come home, but you, your presence, even if it would mean you scolding me on how lazy I had become, or constantly worrying for me. Your physicality was worth everything, because I know you wanted me to be the strongest, boldest and the best version of myself to face the world.

It’s not that my love for you has increased manifold just because the whole world celebrates maternal love today, not at all. And I shall not post your pictures to display my love for you, and probably never will, because my love for you is magnanimous and beyond. The love between a mother and daughter is inexplicable, and I haven’t still found ‘the’ word that expresses the joy and relief when I see you in front of my eyes; the few feet of distance that would separate us, in reality, remains a dream when today, thousands of miles separate us and are bridged virtually.

Representative image.

You have not only been my mother, Mamma, but my best friend, guide, philosopher, and sometimes my father too. I think the dictionaries should define a mother as anybody who can do anything except for creating the Universe. This is no exaggeration and, you know what, most people would agree with me on that!

Today, if we were not living in the times of a pandemic, it is true I would not have been with you. If everything were happening as scheduled, I would probably be cramming for my final exams and meeting you in two weeks. But alas, it won’t happen and I wonder about that every night. Every night, as I retire for the day, the volume of haze that surrounds you and me comes alive in my mind. The patience that I try to build every day breaks down, and wonder when you’d be by my side. Tears of helplessness roll down my cheeks, and I pray in silence for your good health.

The everyday news of rising cases, deaths and looming uncertainty over academics and jobs makes me more anxious, Mamma. I know you ask me all the time not to think about all that, after all, you know how my anxiety grapples me. When I battled the demons within, it was you who consoled me, checked on me every minute, and when you didn’t, your lips only moved in prayers for my recovery.

I try hard Mamma, but I fear losing you, fear not being with you in these uncertain times. I am not as strong as you are and probably could never be. And I know if the whole world stopped believing me, you never would. When I did things that made me diffident, your confidence and blessings were my strength. I long for that, I long for everything, and I long for you.

I am trying really hard to adjust and embrace what is called adulthood management. Remember the other day, when you told me that these are times of test from the All-Mighty and you have been doing decent enough in managing it all alone? But when did the All-Mighty teach me to live without you, Mamma?

At least not in times when the whole world is in a state of fear and uncertainty. Even though our calls last for an hour, nothing replaces your physicality. Both you and I know that we worry for each other, but our virtual reality triumphs and we never disclose our raw emotions, lest I succumb and you have to console.

But I shall not fail you, Mamma. After all, I am the daughter of the lady who faced the biggest challenges of life with valour, someone who sacrificed herself for her children and husband, and devoted herself to her children’s well-being. You are my inspiration every time. I want to be the Mamma’s girl who mirrors her mother. The kindest, compassionate, strongest, bravest — I want to be ‘the’ second to you, because you are one of your kind, the most practical and friendliest woman I have ever seen and shall never see another.

No, don’t cry now. I am going to pester you more; not with tears of hopelessness, but with what all I am going to do with you after I meet you soon, my best friend. In times of desperation, your words of encouragement to me are like the light in a dark tunnel, and I cling to them because they’re from you, Mamma. Thousands of posts on Facebook and Instagram on keeping hope have no effect on me as much as your words.

Because as they say, “God could not be everywhere so he created mothers.” Your words are divine and that gives me the strength always, and forever.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamma.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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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