This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pooja Dahiya. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Meet Meenal Jain, A Software Engineer Who Quit Her Job to Teach

More from Pooja Dahiya

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

During my regular visits to Donate An Hour, where I have been volunteering for 2 years, I have come across various people from all age groups. They are not only donating their precious time to teach underprivileged children, but also creating unique techniques to help them understand the concept of a particular lesson.

One day, I observed a few children trying to climb up and down the stairs with a young lady who was engrossed in the activity as well. It was an interesting sight and the excitement of those young boys and girls was so high that I had to observe them from a distance.

I was curious, obviously, but more than that I was eager to know who this lady was who could get these kids involved in participation. It’s definitely not easy to work with children who have not had an introduction with Education; also to handle their energy is not an easy task because they are always restless and desperate to move on to something more exciting.

So, this lady was teaching them the concept of ascending and descending order in Mathematics which I gathered from listening to her hidden from where I couldn’t be seen.

Meenal Jain is a B-tech graduate in Electronics and Communication who worked for 5 years in the IT Industry as a software engineer, got married in 2016 and moved to Gurgaon. This city brought her closer to her ambitious dream of serving our society because she always carried a concern for the migrant labour class who are constantly moving from one place to another. Their children bear the brunt of this brutal reality as they are never able to enjoy the benefits of stability.

She was trying to update her portfolio and happened to search the internet for an NGO where she could contribute. Meenal was fortunate enough to find an organisation which was located near her residence in sector 45 so she contacted them without wasting any time. She describes her initial experience for getting enrolled at DoaR as something she wasn’t ready for. Expectations of beginning a journey with Meenakshi and Divya Prakash on their wonderful cause were so high that she almost forgot that her ambitions needed more than an Hour of donation.

As she explained to me, she was facing a dozen children who had never been to school and had no inclination towards studies, besides more than a 100 in different batches who were being handled by other volunteers.

As a person, she is soft-spoken, meek and carries a composure of being calm but when you are handed over with a responsibility to channelise the energy of tiny-tots who need schooling, the challenge is more than enough.

She faced hurdles initially and to simply get basic attention from these small children was a tiresome task. Once frustration did seep in but her dilemma was solved by Meenakshi who told her “If these kids can study easily, then the challenge is over”! I still wonder at times that what actually got her into leaving a promising career behind and succumb to this urgent need for social service!

As I said, an hour isn’t enough when you are determined to shape up the lives of those who are less fortunate than us. And when you reach the doorstep of DoaR, this beautiful World full of promising and happy children embrace you with open arms. Meenal was handling the teaching for EA students after successfully guiding very small children in the Library previously.

That’s when I met her and was totally in awe because when I was engrossed with my batch for making ‘Teacher’s Day cards, the maximum cards were being made for her and not me.

For Meenal, another opportunity was served when she was attending a session for recruitment at DoaR. A village “Kherla” in Nuh Distt of Haryana which was adopted by the organisation for community development, needed immediate attendance. We had already established a government school and were undergoing a process of cleaning the village premises; a Major Slogan and Cause of DoaR are to eradicate the use of plastic.

So, the task was to reach the village, meet with the Sarpanch and start a campaign of cleaning and painting of walls of every house. She was excited and was expecting to spend some money to buy paints and to pay someone for completing the task. Upon reaching the village, Meenal was instantly intimidated after coming face-to-face with villagers who seemed threatening. The goal was not to get the walls painted but to convince the villagers to clean their surroundings by themselves.

Meenakshi said, “If they can have a dozen buffaloes, they might as well buy a tin of paint for their walls!” And this gave her relief because within a few hours the walls of the village were decorated in colours and the graffitis were fascinating enough to ensure her that she was in the safe company of determined soldiers.


This was unforeseen and her aim was to simply teach! But this one day spent at Kherla changed her perspective especially after witnessing Meenakshi’s stern leadership. You don’t have to donate money for every cause, you just have to convince others to utilise their means (within their limitations of-course) for maintaining a healthier lifestyle and surroundings. Even the poor are entitled to it if they are provided with genuine provision for working towards this goal.

While Meenal was expecting a monetary sum to be given to them for painting their walls, she was astonished to see that the villagers did the same with simple instructions. This incident changed her altogether because her mind was now fully dedicated to “Donate an Hour” and we cannot deny the contribution of her husband Udit Mangal and her in-laws who gave her the freedom to walk ahead with her cause.

Meenal decided to dedicate herself fully to DoaR after she met Divya Prakash who is the man behind this project of EA Academy where students with potential are being educated in a proper manner. While exploring the academy she discovered that out of those dozens of children that she was guiding, the ones with a potential to rise higher were being trapped at an early stage for proper schooling.

Her mathematics lessons got regular and soon she was provided with an opportunity to teach at EA Academy on a regular basis.

She was in the family way soon but that didn’t cause any hindrance because of the support she received from her family. Her husband Udit encouraged her to continue with her routine and as I said, no woman can contribute for such causes if the husband and families don’t support.

We, somehow, fall back without it. Although her gynaecologist did advice her to stay away from social service because it might prove hazardous to her health (absolutely weird on her part for this advice) due to her interaction with children from “unhealthier environment, Meenal ignored it.

During her entire pregnancy, she spent most of her time in taking regular classes for students at EA. Something she can never, ever, forget is pure love and innocent portrayal of possessiveness by her students who tried their best every day to pamper her while she was showing signs of motherhood. Dhaani arrived on Dec 2, 2019, and is a part of our family today.

How are these warriors different from any other, you may wonder! We all do our bit and don’t miss a chance to donate money whenever it is required for a social cause, so what makes her different from you? Well, try to spend a little time with a child who is 8 years old and has never been to a school.

You will get your answers and I can assure you, you will never be able to keep him out of your mind. At “DoaR” we have hundreds of children whom we gather and at times, have to literally battle with their parents to drag them out of their homes… But we do that with determination because without education life is wasted.

The “Conscientious” DoaRians can never allow that so we are the warriors who fight our own battles for a child’s rights! Yes, we do! We struggle to get the fathers to come to an agreement to send their child to us, while our fights with the mothers are equally strenuous. To gain their trust is our foremost priority and so far we have managed to build a school of hardworking scholars at the EA Academy.

You must be to comment.
  1. Divya Prakash

    People like Meenal are sign that all in this world is not lost. People can do a lot to meest inse if they wish and money is not the only way.

    1. Pooja Dahiya

      Like our slogan clearly states “donate an hour” and we don’t need more than that! Waiting for a chance to tell the tales of our other dedicated warriors soon.

More from Pooja Dahiya

Similar Posts

By Shirley Khurana

By Soumya Sinha

By Lawprep

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below