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Open Letter: My Teacher Helped Me Recognise My Writing Talent

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Respected Santwana ma’am,

How have you been? I hope you are doing well. Over the past few days, I’ve been unable to attend online classes due to poor internet connectivity. I apologise for that.

I usually don’t pay too much attention towards writing something like an article or a letter on the occasion of this Teacher’s Day, but I ahve been given the assignment of writing an open letter to a teacher who has taught me a valuable lesson. And for that, I chose you, because no one else fits this title best when it comes to motivating me. Although the rest of my teachers have played a major part in my life as well, you are special.

2017 was the year when I started writing poems and stories (all in Hindi then), assisted by my friend Rohit Bhattacharya, who was my closest friend at that time. Back then, I used to hesitate in showing my writings to teachers (as I felt very awkward). I could not judge whether my poems were good or not. My friends would read them and encourage me to write more. I wrote my first poem, then second, third, fourth, fifth . . . and then there was no stopping. I became unstoppable.

I still remember the day when I showed you my first poem in English. You were like “Wow!,”  and that reaction changed my life. It was for the first time that I got appreciated for my poem. And it was you who had given that to me. I will never forget that. When I wrote my second poem, I showed it to you again, and you were so touched by that poetry that you promised me to gift me a diary. But the next day, I didn’t come to collect it (as I felt shy). I think it was my fourth or fifth poem when I finally gathered the guts to approach you again and accept the blessings you had to give me in the form of that diary (I have preserved that diary and pen down my thoughts and poetries in it even today) after receiving so many positive words from you.

pen kept on paper
I still remember the day when I showed you my first poem in English. You were like “Wow!,”  and that reaction changed my life.

Nature, women empowerment, love, goodness . . . and so on — I wrote down poems on each of such topics. Whenever I used to show you a new poem I’d written, you’d either make the entire class clap for me or give me chocolates. When I used to look in the eyes of students who were clapping for me, I found a vague expression, but when I’d look in yours, I could feel pure emotions for my talent, a genuine and honest appreciation. Each time you would encourage me, I would find myself flying along with clouds of happiness. I would feel energised. While some teachers used to scold me for not learning a given topic or doing something wrong, you used to always be there in my defense.

You may be wondering why I am giving all the credit to you only and why not to others as well: that is because I had also shown my poems to other teachers and even my friends, out of whom only Supriya ma’am (who was then the class teacher of VII-A, now no more part of our school) showed interest in reading them, and read and motivated me, encouraging me to keep going writing. She recognised my talent and blessed me to never stop writing. The rest of them overlooked my poems, thinking they were common. But you were there to identify my poetry. You taught me so many things, apart from the educational stuff, which I actually wished to learn. Your way of teaching was very different from others and also meaningful. You treated every student equally and paid heed to each one of us, making sure we are not disadvantaged from the learning.

It’s easy to overwhelm the world by your talent, but it takes courage to find it within yourself!

I was merely a coal. It was you who carved a diamond out of me. It was you who helped me find all that I could do. You are the reason for what I am today. Your goodness is infinite, just like the stars in the cosmos. Your humbleness and kindness is immeasurable. I can’t find appropriate words to justify your goodness. But one thing I know for sure — my success will know no boundaries until I have your blessing on me. Whatever you have done for me, I can’t thank you enough. I am indebted to you forever in fact.

I have so much more to say, but I am running out of words. I just hope you keep supporting me and raining your love and light upon me like you always have.

Lots of love and respect,

Pravin Gupta

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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.

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.

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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 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.

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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
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