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“This Lockdown Has Been A Blend Of Spices For Me”

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The year 2020 has been full of challenges for all of us. We all have gone through a massive amount of ordeals during this epoch. But one more thing that is common to all is the experiences and learnings that we have gained during this period of hardship. We all have our own set of things that we learned during this pandemic, that we could even make a story out of. I want to share my part of the pandemic story, so stay put.

Let me take you to the very beginning. I was reading my newspaper in January, on winter’s eve, and suddenly I spotted an article which read “New Chinese Virus”. I just read the basic headline and gave a sigh, paid no more heed to it, and flipped through the rest of the pages. Little did I know that this little headline would take over the whole newspaper, in no time.

I was to enter class 12 when all this began. I had planned this year to be full of amusement since this was my last year and a significant one as well, but then who knew what the actual arena would be. My planning for 12th grade was at a peak when suddenly, I heard about the”lockdown”. All my dreams were on the verge of extinction, but I thought it’ll be over soon.

Later when the lockdown continued, I realised that “okay now it’s serious”. I was already in class 12 by now, and our school had started taking classes online. Since this was a completely new thing to us, at first, it was onerous to manage. Also, there wasn’t any video conference happening at the very start, so all we had in hand were some written explanations and voice-over summaries sent to us on WhatsApp by our teachers since this was all of a sudden.

whatsapp online classes
After a month of the trial of teaching on WhatsApp groups, our school finally took the initiative and moved to video conferencing on G-suit.

I used to ignore my pends at the beginning, but as the time was moving, I realised the permanency of this change and I started taking it on a serious note.

Things were changing as time did. After a month of the trial of teaching on WhatsApp groups, our school finally took the initiative and moved to video conferencing on G-suit. It was much more comfortable then. We could see each other face to face. It started feeling like a school. It was quite stimulating. But it was still hard to stay motivated and the only thing I was going through was procrastination. I wasn’t able to stop procrastinating and ended up collecting a pile of pending workload on my teeny-tiny head (chuckles).

I was going through an enormous amount of stress and anxiety. I was asking for ways and tips from different people to cope with my studies. But every time the result was just the same, no improvements. I felt like I’ll lack behind this time.

One thing that I now can make out is that the mental impact of the lockdown on students is quite immense. And I believe every one of us is going through the same. We all are going through lots of self-doubts and remorses at this moment. This is pulling us away from doing things and we end up quitting.

Well, it has not been monotonous all the time. For many, it has been beneficial too. Plus we all have got to learn so much of life experience. We can now relate to the fact that “life has to keep going, no matter what”.

If I talk about how much I benefited from it, I would say a lot. I now have started looking at life from a very different perspective. I have started giving importance to everything and everyone now, more than before. I have turned into an extrovert from an introvert. I’m now more open and understanding of people. I have become more jolly. I now have more cramps for knowledge.

If I sum up in a single line, I can notice “spiritual growth” in myself. Now I know the art of dealing with situations. And it’s now consistent. I’m growing day by day.

I would sincerely like to thank my school and teachers for being dedicated to us. They did and are still doing their part to make the best available to us. It’s not only us who are worried about our studies but our teachers also.

This is one amongst a vast list of things that I have learned and it is that I now respect teaching more than any other profession in the world. They are working selflessly to shape our future and this is enough motivation to keep us going.

I would say this lockdown has been a blend of spices for me. I learned, fell, grew, spent, used and whatnot. I have summoned enough strength that I can deal with all sorts of issues single-handedly now.

Created by sara **

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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, 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.

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