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From School To College, These 6 Teachers Helped Me Survive And Thrive

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The dreams begin, most of the times, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth. We all know that knowledge alone can make us perfect however no knowledge is possible without a teacher. For me, teachers are those important pillars of my life without which life’s journey would be a lot more difficult. Because of my teachers, I am trying to be a better person than yesterday.

Thank You Jyotsna Davar Ma’am, Rajendra Joshi Sir, Dhanveer Sir, Sunita Sharma Ma’am, Anita Ma’am, Rajyasri Narayan Ma’am, Trilok Chand Sir, Navneet Thanvi Sir, Divya Ma’am, Amit Agarwwal Sir, Jyoti Jain Ma’am, Nikita Singh Ma’am, Sujata Rohilla Ma’am, Aastha Kalia Ma’am, Kaneeka Kundal Ma’am, Kanika Dhingra Ma’am, Sudhanshu Pathania Sir, Abhishek Srivastava Sir, Sukanya Sharma Ma’am, Ankur Sir and all of my teachers.

Right from my childhood till my college days and even beyond, my mentors and teachers have guided me as to how I should move towards my goal. They taught me how to read and write and most importantly, they prepared me for a world that is not easy to handle. Like my parents and family, they too helped me to prepare myself to face the outside world. I salute you all for giving your time, energy and sharing your knowledge and wisdom to make my life more beautiful, discipline and meaningful. With a special thanks to:

Representational image.

To Hemant Tahiliani Sir

Whenever I look back in my life, I have found him present, and I am still trying to understand the meaning of life through his lessons. He used to take the first-class during my school days and he was my class teacher from 6th to 10th standard. The way he used to teach us was different and unique.

His idea of teaching was not the usual one. He taught us to face the practical world by giving examples about life and I learnt a practical approach to handle life from him during my school days. I know he is still sharing his experience with other students and it is my privilege that still I am in contact with him.

I just want to say: thank you, Sir, for everything. You were there for me when I was too young, not aware of anything but you held my hand and taught me to walk in a different path of my life like my father.

To Shukla Sir

It was our usual practice in school during morning prayers and you gave special lessons to all of us. You were, and still are, young and I could feel the positive energy and vibes from you, Sir, whenever you’d give any speech in front of us.  I still remember your style of teaching.

If I am writing something in English then I should give credit to you as my English teacher and then Ms Anita Ma’am and Ms Rajyasri Narayan Ma’am. I still remember how when I once saw you in a metro station, you were collecting waste papers and throwing the same in the dustbin and that is what you always did Sir, set examples for students to follow the same.

You are aware that it is not easy to live life after school days and therefore you used to say that “Mehnat karo, itna kaaphi nahi” (Work harder). Thank You, Sir, for everything.

To Chander Kanta Chabria Ma’am

I was not one of her best students and she was not sure whether I will be able to get passing marks in my 12th boards but somehow I managed. Math was not my favourite subject but she taught me that you cannot learn anything if you don’t have any interest. There I learnt from her that if I need to understand something, then I have to develop an interest in that subject. For the first time, when my friend presented my poem in front of all students during prayers, you personally appreciated my work and encouraged me for writing and because of this, I am still trying to write something.

That poem was related to social issues. Thank you for everything.

To Jyoti Narayan Ma’am

I was not aware of anything about college life. When I got admitted to law college, it was challenging for me to adjust during the initial days. From the very first day to last day, your presence during my college life made my five years easier and special and I learnt that even in college, the faculty members may teach, care and understand us as their children. You were there for me whenever I needed your help and I know that you are still ready to help me if required.

If I was not with my group, you’d always ask me, “why are you sitting alone?” and if I was not well, you’d enquire about my health and I know that you were genuinely concerned. Irrespective of the fact that you were not teaching any subject after the 3rd year, I felt your presence as a leader and motivator. Thank you, ma’am, for everything.

To Kapil Dev Panchal Sir

It is not easy to be in this profession and especially if you are teaching college students. I know that for you it was not easy to handle our batch but the way you ignored every irrelevant thing and voices and the way you gave lessons especially of Constitution of India is appreciable.

You taught me how to concentrate on what we ourselves are doing instead of what the others say. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me, Sir. I hope you get whatever you want in your life but I just want to acknowledge your efforts as a teacher. You shared all information with great passion and you made a positive impact in my life, Sir. Thank you.

To Manish Jha Sir

I still remember that when I was sitting at home and was not in a position to walk due to my accident, you came to my home and gave lessons. Whatever marks I got in Accounts, Maths and Economics during my school days, that was because of your efforts, Sir.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and help me become a better person so that I can face this world in a better way. I am a fan of your style, way and passion. You have a great interest in sharing information with all of us and that is why the number of your students is increasing and I hope they will increase in future so that they will get the opportunity to learn from you.

A teacher is considered to be a person who removes all darkness from our lives and bring light. Thank you, everyone, for sharing information, knowledge and wisdom with me. Life is beautiful for me because I got life lessons from all of you.

Happy Teacher’s Day!

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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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