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The Future Belongs To Storytellers, Get Ready!

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Make no mistake.
What is happening in the world right now, this is big.
A new normal is dawning on us, a new way of learning, a new way to work our livelihood, shapes our lives. A new future, almost.
This is beyond how much we can hold in our hands.
This is a time that the whole world, the way we work, the way we are valued, is shifting. It is a test of character, a test in leadership.
It is a paradigm shift, no less.
And the only thing that’ll connect us backwards and forwards will be this:
Stories!

But before we go there, let’s pause and look where we came from.
How far we’ve come.
As the human race, we can perhaps guess an early point in civilization when our forefathers and forefathers would have just about discovered if they rub stones until they become hot. They could invoke a part of the Sun on Earth even when it is night. We can picture them gathered around a bonfire every evening after a long day’s hunting, roasting the flesh of animals they’ve hunted, sharing tidbits about their day’s sojourns over food and fresh honey. That perhaps was the first sense of storytelling known to humans.

As archaeologists have evidenced, they took the stories from fire circles and etched them in stick figures along the caves’ walls they made a home in.
Stories travelled.
Through age and time, stories made a way through all this time.
Since then,
From the age of hunter-gatherers to the agricultural, then to the industrial age when people worked alongside machines, and eventually, to the age of knowledge workers when turn by turn, they could delegate the manual jobs off to the machines. And now to realize how we’re knocking on the age of wisdom, almost.

This time it almost took a leap with the internet. The world, it became an oyster.
Our voices amplified by the web far beyond our vocal cords, our ideas igniting possibilities that can change the very way we thought for so long.

Yet to realize how, as we glided through these phases, we left parts of our systems stuck behind.
Our definitions of wealth and wellness, our pursuits of the unknown that is future, our validation of success, and these often got sticky. Our education systems oftentimes struggled struggles to match up to the future that will be our work and health and being.

At times we needed to move faster forward than our minds would carry us; at other times, we’d just need to look backwards and onwards to learn
from the wisdom that is in the ancient within us.

Storytelling falls in the second category.

To realize how the ritual of storytelling evolved yet stuck, held our hands steadfast since those ancient times, through history, and how it continues to shape us to this day, especially as we witness a global shift in consciousness right in these current times, is a reckoning.
As babies, we had stories that put us to sleep much before we learned the ropes of language and relationships. As toddlers, stories taught us early emotions: fire to fear, vegetables to love, mishaps to stay clear from. Whoever told stories, we trusted. Growing up, stories helped us navigate, build alibis, create excuses. Stories taught us right from wrong, moralities and lessons, causes, and effects.
In schools, we learned better with stories.
The teachers who we liked we liked the way they taught us stories, what we could do in life with their lessons. We chose life, what we could become, by stories painted.
However, stories often showed us but parts of an elephant – a trunk there, a tusk here. Our ideas of life and success, therefore, came to us in parts. Our perspectives cut corners and folded themselves up in neat boxes. Following the industrial setting out parents had seen for themselves, their way to prepare us for life was only as good and as far as they could see. And in that picture, life measured in numbers. Often!

Now, times are changing.
In boardrooms, stories are quickly taking over the bar diagrams & pie charts.

Only until yesterday, we had heard, said, and concurred that the future it belongs to self-starters and entrepreneurs.
But look around now!
Look at the world that is going to be.
And what we can do to brace up for it.

As uncertain and volatile the times, we realize that effective communication & powerful storytelling will take centre stage and sit at the core of what we’d function with. These are emerging skills to be crucial forces in anything we want to do at any stage in our lives. In every role, we’d play as individuals, in family and community, and in our careers in the corporate or entrepreneurial journeys.

Now suddenly, we know better than that. It is almost an epiphany of sorts, and we have suddenly been woken up from a slumber that was our definition of life and success. For now, as we know, it is not as much about success as it is about the experience, this life!

The future today it belongs to storytellers and change-makers and thought-leaders.
It belongs to those who ask questions,
It is ruled by those who tell stories.
Better Than the Rest.
As authenticity and whole being become essential to our personal and social journeys, stories are becoming our bridge to the rest of the world.
How can we speak emotions and vulnerability on public platforms? How can we use stories for influence and personal signature? How can we put across our messages in a way that sticks, lingers, and matters? How can we infuse passion and direction into the dry numbers in our business talks?
These, more than many other skills, are fueling and powering the very process of growth today.

And why our single individual lives, just?
Stories are shaping culture, influencing how and what we think, what we want to become.
A new culture, a new day.
A new world.
If not, now, when?
If not you, who?

Tell us your story.
Today!

At LIGHTHOUSE with the model of storytelling, change-making, and thought-leadership, I help people to become better at whatever they want to be and build skills towards their vision.

In the intensive program on “Mastering the Art & Craft of Powerful Storytelling,” I’ll teach how we can find and chisel the words we speak, how we can use and sharpen our voice, access, body, hand, and eyes which do as much the talking. How we can use pause, in spoken words. How we can overcome fear, derive joy, and create a legacy with our storytelling.

If this interests you or if you know anyone who’ll be interested, please send me a note using this form.

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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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