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Meet 4 Young People From Gujarat Who Stepped Up To Do Their Bit In This Pandemic!

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ReimagineTogether logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #ReimagineTogether, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with UNICEF India, YuWaah and Generation Unlimited, to spark conversations to create a new norm and better world order in the post-pandemic future. How have you and those around you coped with the pandemic? Join the conversation by telling us your COVID story and together, let's reimagine a safer, better and more equal future for all!

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.

By UNICEF, Gujarat

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ahmedabad, several communities were hit and quite strongly. Amidst the chaos that ensued—when thousands of people ran out of essentials—several good samaritans around the country took up the mantle of working for their welfare.

Here are the accounts from four young, 20-somethings from Ahmedabad, who stepped up during the crisis and did their bit to fight the deadly virus:

“The Most Precious Thing One Can Own Is Humanity”

– Jahanvi Narendrasinh Rajput, 23, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

I was listening to the radio, which I sometimes do and I heard about the Elixir Foundation. I came to know about their response to migrants’ crisis through a team of volunteers. It was inspiring to hear about what they do, how they are helping the people from marginalized sections, and how they provide youngsters with an opportunity to become part of this process and contribute to nation-building.

I also wanted to contribute and do my bit for society in this distressing time. I reached out to RJ Aarti, who then introduced me to the organization. We started arranging food and other essentials for around 50-60 people. Every day, we tried to extend our reach. We wanted to help as many people in need as we could.

The most precious thing one can own is humanity and compassion towards other people. During this period, I observed that a large number of migrants were under stress. They needed our urgent support. We have done our best to support the migrants, and we hope that more people and volunteers will come forward to do the same.

“This Pandemic Has Also Brought Opportunities For The Youth”

– Krunal Rakeshbhai Shah, 23, Ahmedabad

Though a tough time, this pandemic has also brought opportunities. The youngsters can re-mobilize their skills and strength during this time to focus on their careers. This lockdown has yielded time for introspection and evaluating one’s self on SWOT scale (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) basis the goal one has set for himself/herself.

This is also a time when youth can contribute to society significantly. By staying at home and following all the guidelines, they can keep their family and society safe. They can also volunteer to serve those in need. However, while volunteering and being on the field, they have to be extra-cautious since Corona spreads through human contact. One should be helping people and not spreading infection.

Also, this is the time when youngsters should be cautious about fake news. Any forward or news regarding coronavirus, which appears suspicious and panic-creating, should be verified, crosschecked and if need be, reported to the authorities.

And the most important thing is that we should respect Corona Warriors and show empathy towards Covid patients. Yes, we must maintain norms of social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we discriminate against them. There are instances of doctors, frontline health workers and the policemen being stigmatized. We are safe because they are at work. Please respect them, don’t ostracize them.

“The Corona Warriors Are The Real Heroes In This Pandemic”

– Harishchandra Patil, 23, Ahmedabad

The Covid-19 outbreak has nearly engulfed the entire world. More than 200 countries have been fighting the invisible virus that has claimed around three lakh lives since it reared its ugly head in Wuhan, China last year.

India, too, has been battling against the novel Coronavirus spread. While everyone has been contributing in their own ways—be it by staying home or helping the needy in the situation arising due to the lockdown—the face or the hero of this fight are Corona Warriors. Yes, the doctors, the nurses, the frontline health workers, sanitation workers, the police, the hospital staff and all those who unhesitatingly respond to their call of duty and expose themselves to the risk of contracting the infection.

While soldiers sacrifice their lives to keep our borders safe, these Corona warriors are also making supreme sacrifices to save patients. Though showering petals on them was a gesture of gratitude, it cannot measure up to what they have been doing.

However, there have been instances where these Corona warriors have faced the wrath of people. Incidents of mob targeting the police or health workers, or abusing doctors and nurses have hogged the headlines. What prompts them to act in such a callous way is beyond logic. Corona warriors deserve nothing but our respect and love.

“It Is A Great Time For Youth To Contribute To Society”

– Dhruvi Shah, 21, Ahmedabad

In this pandemic, everyone’s having a hard time.  And it’s understandable if you are not okay. With a sudden change in one’s routine, it can be difficult, but here, I would like to take a moment and thank everyone for staying home and thereby contributing to the fight against Covid-19.

As we all know, one of the main sources of information is news channels and media. Earlier, we used to believe whatever they tell us, but now is the time to question and cross-check the credibility of news. A lot of fake news is being circulated on social media platforms. We must check their source and credibility before blindly trusting and forwarding them. This is very important since rumours cause more harm in the current scenario. The least we can do to break the chain of fake news is not forward it.

Furthermore, I would like to say that it is a great time when youth can contribute to society by volunteering to help those in need. Even by simply following the government guidelines on social distancing and personal hygiene, youth can contribute to this war against Corona.

Lastly, but very importantly, let’s respect the doctors, nurses and health workers who are serving us at the cost of their lives. As the youth, let’s create awareness in our societies and neighbourhood to ensure that the medical staff does not face any stigma. We must come together to bust this wrong notion about that the frontline health workers carry the infection.

Let’s not forget that we are safe because they are working tirelessly. So please maintain social distancing, obey guidelines, enjoy this time and respect all the Corona Warriors. Be safe and take care.

This post is a part of COVID Diaries, a special series under the #ReimagineTogether campaign. Tell us how this lockdown and pandemic has affected you! Join the conversation by adding a post here. 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.

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 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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