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Dear Teachers, Thank You For Being The Wind Beneath Our Wings

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To all the teachers out there,

You deserve more than just one day of recognition. Every achievement that any student makes in their life is a celebration of Teachers’ day. It is proof that the hard work you nurtured us with bears fruit today. Coming from a family of teachers, I’ve always had a feeling of admiration for academia.

I still remember practising in the field for the sports day and being conscious of the people around me as I ran on the tracks. My PT teacher called out and told me to look straight while I was running: “The finish line is all you must see, what are you looking for behind you – your goal lies in front.”

I went on to win that race and his advice has guided me through many races in life. I remember practising for debates and my Hindi teacher giving me ton loads of topics to practice on. All I did was crib about the extra work on top of the board exam pressure. The next morning I would see her arrive with even more preparation and notes than I had been assigned and all I could do was admire her passion.

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We lost many debates but her faith in us continued. She was quick to call us out on our faults but she was the first shield to stand for us when we didn’t perform up to expectation. And with the amount of dedication she put in, the expectation was always high and finally, we did reciprocate that in the debates.

Today, I am a confident public speaker however none of it would have been possible if my teacher had agreed with the rest that I was too soft-spoken for debating. Had she not rooted for me, perhaps I might not have either. I still remember my English literature teacher praising all those who had secured the highest in the English Literature unit exam. Although I wasn’t present in school on that day, I yearned for that praise and, though I laugh remembering it now, I used to study hard for the literature paper just to make her proud.

Literature was soon the spark that ignited my soul and writing became much more than an occasional hobby – it became my passion too. She asked me to write for the annual academician and I submitted a three-part story after putting in a day’s work. It didn’t get published in the magazine however it became the draft of the novel I am writing presently.

I can proudly say today that AGENT 024, and with it my journey as an author, was a result of the trust my teacher put in me which was so raw and earnest that I wanted to do everything in my power to stand worthy of it. I remember being a rebel and when organic chemistry made no sense to me, I would do everything but sit quietly in the class.

When my Chemistry teacher told me to stay back after class one day, I was ready for the month-long anguish and wrath to unfold. Instead, she said kindly, “Tell me, is everything okay? ” And, I told her Chemistry was out of the scope of my understanding, she listened and offered help.

Now that I think of it, there were two ways it could have gone down- the easier and more probable way would have been to shout at me, threaten to call my parents if I didn’t pay attention or complaint to the coordinators. Due to the fear of being further reprimanded, I would have listened. I’d still have disliked the subject and even the teacher now, but I would have created no more ruckus in her class and technically the problem would have solved.

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However, she chose the other way, the difficult way that no one would have expected of her. She chose to be empathetic, she chose to understand, she chose to treat me with respect and care, and I had no other option than to respond to her kindness. When my class teacher made me in charge of the class for the soft board competition, all I could think of were ways to get out of this responsibility.

I wasn’t just shy of the spotlight, I ran away from the very possibility of it. And being the leader of the class would mean constant interaction and my classmates’ ill will when I had to call them out in front of the teacher for not bringing in stuff for the board. And truth be told, I in my entire life, had hardly submitted anything for the board. Expecting class 12th students to do that was a fool’s errand. However by the end of the term, we had won all the competitions straight and the class was content as the work was divided such that 10 students were made to bring stuff for each competition and hence once someone had submitted the stuff, they were not asked for any more work till months.

As a result, the innocent students who landed up getting the stuff every time due to fear of punishment breathed a sigh of relief whereas the students like me who would always find some escape every time now worked and the process was smoothly functioning. Had my teacher not forced me to step out of my comfort zone and for once taking charge in my life, I’d have preferred to remain the passenger of my ship and never have the guts to take over as the pilot of my life. That confidence earned went so much beyond the walls of the classroom. I would have never considered myself a leader, had my teacher not forced me to see it for myself.

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Whatever I am today, is an accumulation of the trust and hard work my teachers have put into me. Whatever I achieve, I’ll know it all began on the campus of the school that became home to me.

It began with the teachers who put their belief in me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the teachers who’ve influenced and impacted me.

The profession you have undertaken is shaping the future and as you set us out into the world has taught us how to fly, every flight that we take, the wing underneath our wings shall be courtesy your hard work.

Thank you for not giving up on us even when we made it so easy to, for making us get out of our comfort zones even when we hated to, for shaping the leaders of tomorrow, because you saw it in us even when we didn’t have the guts to.

My teacher once said, “It’s not about the job, heck teachers don’t even get paid much but it is the satisfaction to see your students become capable – that happiness is all that this profession is about.”

Hoping to make you all proud one day, Happy Teachers’ Day.

Featured image for representation only.
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  1. shreya ghosh

    so genuinely and simply expressed. Every word of it is so relatable to my life and reverberates in my ears. Keep going. A very nuanced letter indeed!!

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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.

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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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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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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
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