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O Teacher, My Teacher: The Radar To My Sails, The Rock To My Failures

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To

My Class Teacher,

Miss Sudeshna,

Too rational to dream, too logical to be emotional. That’s exactly how the world speeds on its racing wheels today. In this world of mechanized mobility, where every soul is so hungry to trample imagination and embrace logic, I still believe in miracles. I believe in love, trust, dreams, passion. I love to shudder at the undulations of my emotions, to revel in its entrancing charm and to dive into its abyss.

When every voice around me suppressed my inner self and tarnished my very emotional existence to join the mainstream of logic, there was a hand on my shoulder who entered my life like a tranquil moonlight on a pitch dark sky who uttered to me the words which I needed the most, “It’s a blessing to be emotional, feel it”. 

As I look back down the memory lane today to reminisce the best two years of my life from senior secondary school, I perceive you not just as a teacher who taught academics but the person who enabled the young minds in front of her to enlighten the inner being in themselves, to ace the tender souls so effortlessly, to gauge the impulsive teens sympathetically, to be the best version of ourselves, to push limits and extend ‘comfort zones’.

My mentor for life
The beacon of my confidence.

What does a teacher stand for in a student’s life? A pile of books, a milieu of red marks on the answer scripts, raging red eyes of reprimanding and a ceaseless exchange of notes and files. Astonishingly, I can not relate anything of this to you.

To me, you are the person who entrusted me with the faith to speak in front of the entire auditorium when I was just a naive,under-confident kid, too shy to glance at the panoramic view of the audience. My throat churned, sweat trickled down my spine, the microphone in my hand trembled tremendously yet you looked straight into my eyes with an unwavering gaze whispering, “You can do it!”.

I failed then, in fact miserably. But I feel if the fire inside me had not been ignited that day, I could never have shattered by the hollow shell in which I was cocooned.

The one who taught me it’s truly a blessing to imagine beyond logic, to feel intrinsically and exactly what the fast-paced world fails to envision, to look forward each day to bettering one’s true self, to believe in oneself, to reach beyond the realm of books to enrich oneself as a better human being, to gauge one’s success by the number of smiles we share is the one who mentored me through the most vulnerable phase of my life, not just as a teacher, but as a mentor.

Truly, it is impossible for me to pen down my feelings in one letter. But every time I was on the verge of giving up, I closed my eyes just to reminisce that spark of faith in your eyes that peered at me through your rimmed spectacles as the words “You can” reciprocated in my ears.

A lady who is courageous enough to challenge stereotypes and instil the responsible and equitable spirit in each individual, a mentor who polishes the best traits of each student to extend peripheries that we have created for ourselves, a person who dares to make others dream is what I idolize you to be.

When the world turned against me and threatened my very capability to success, you stood by me to say that I am worthy of much more. You don’t deserve just a day of recognition and acknowledgement. Every success of mine and in fact, every student, is just a reflection of your dedication, encouragement and trust that you have reposed in us with to groom us into ladies whose voices have an opinion instead of succumbing to any blind stigmatization.

You helped me break my inner barriers, one at a time.
My first public speaking event.

The warmest hug after winning my first debate, the veiled tears as I left the classroom on the last parent-teacher meeting, the constant and ceaseless support and trust in spite of all my flaws, the spirit of persistence to bring out the extraordinary from a very ordinary girl, the perspective to perceive schooling as something beyond academics into a genuine human being, the words which stirred my heart every day, the puny acts of kindness which made me trust in the goodness of mankind, that’s who you are.

The smiles and hope your presence reiterate which made my heart ache to believe in love and miracles, the joy that oozed out of the simple pleasures of life like a blossoming flower ushering in the whirl of exuberance and ecstasy and the list is endless, ceaselessly proliferating through the realms of memories that constitute ‘my class teacher’.

Miss, maybe you were impeccably correct in your words….”It’s a blessing to feel “. The very emotions with which you lightened up my day every day intangibly yet inexorably as you instilled the enchanting charm of rejoicing in the magnificence of the nothingness of ordinary life. I humbly thank you for the very aura and perspective you have given to my life. Maybe I am emotional as I witness gut-wrenching lows and mounting highs as they tickle through my journey, but it’s the same trait that gives me the essence of who I am.

Thank you again for keeping my emotional being alive. May you continue giving wings to the sails of such young minds with your charm, dynamicity and the very ‘real you’.

Happy Teacher’s Day, Miss. 

From Shreya.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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