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99: A Significant Number In The Lockdown

So the title suggests that I will be listing 99 things of a certain genre — maybe 99 things to procrastinate, 99 ways of doing nothing, 99 effective time-kill activities, obviously because it is coming from me.

I feel 99 is an effective number. It is like almost, as in, we were almost graduates when this pandemic happened. We were almost on the same page. I have almost been on time for my morning lectures (just 25 minutes late). So this figure draws enough attention as at least it convinces me and my dear friends that 1,499 is a lot closer to 1,000 than it is to pay 1,500 on Nykaa.

Now because I have drawn enough attention with this number, I am determined enough to list certain things of use. The past 5–6 months have been different. I won’t use the words miserable, difficult, depressing, draining. Not because they have not been so, but because I feel good at this moment. And as of now, I am learning to live in the moment or maybe I currently think it should be lived this way. But it is not always that I feel this way. I feel all sorts of’ “d” words at times, but luckily it is a long happy phase that I am in, touchwood.

Still, sometimes when I need to shoo my negativity away, I try to think of doing something which will make me feel good. It is like flipping between mental channels. And honestly, most of these activities are materialistic. These things are temporary and I don’t even stand in a position of high spiritual standards to calm my mind without finding materialistic desires and happiness. But at this point, this helps me, it fills me with energy. Be it building castles in the air for our upcoming trip. Hehe, no air castles! A trip after this year ends for sure.

So basically, I run through my mind a series of ideas I can do and then I pick something which convinces my mood the most. I pick something which strikes me as the most refreshing. It works 99% of the time to uplift my mood. I get happy by the thought of it and then I procrastinate (kidding!).

At times I have to forcefully abandon my negative thoughts by plugging in my earphones and playing a “high on energy” song. It is Happy by Pharrell Williams these days. I don’t know why, but Netflix does not help me much. I think of getting dressed sometimes, other times I think of doing a room makeover. Also, often I mentally devise a workout and diet plan which I will definitely follow from tomorrow, or Monday for sure.

I think of writing something, this is something I diligently do. I plan to read books, plan on learning a new skill, learn calligraphy maybe and this goes on. I am not really satisfied with my will to execute these ideas because mostly I am content with the planning part (that too mental). But because today I am in a very mindful state, I won’t be diving deeper into the introspection of “why am I so?” I don’t feel bad about myself today.

Recently I read somewhere that everything that goes in our mind becomes our actual circumstances. This reminds me to mention that reading just one good line fills me with surplus motivation to get me going through the week. And what about next week? I search for another such line.

Isn’t feeling good a habit? Yesterday, when I was video calling my 9-year-old cousin who was sitting in front of the camera wearing a cool hat and goggles, I chuckled and asked her, “What mischief are you up to today?” To which she said, “I was too bored, so right now I am thinking I am in Goa.” I had a non-stop 60 seconds laugh, but I knew that this 9-year-old has better ways of keeping herself up. Isn’t it all about the fuel we provide to ourselves.

Often I am in a perplexing situation, a situation of dilemma which disturbs me and pokes my mental peace. That is when I follow something I learnt from my friend, I write it down. I write every detail of it, connect things in form of a web, list things I am dubious about. No, It doesn’t provide an answer, but it helps me sort out my thoughts. I feel no more dubious.

I don’t really have 99 ways of feeling good. But I do have a lot of people around me to talk to. I express myself, I love to talk to them. I like sharing my life philosophies, my very own theories (which Stuti says I should get patented, kidding not kidding) .

I have put down everything which has come to my mind today, which has helped me sail through my bad phases. It is like I am talking to myself and reflecting how it has been lately. It somewhat feels personal, but I still feel like sharing it. Maybe because, after some time, when I read it I could know we excelled through the pandemic.

We moved past not getting a farewell, we adjusted with the reality of not having the last day at college, our batch graduated in the recession period, we almost had our offer letters in hand. But we choose to be happy. We will always choose to be happy because Papa said, “It is our brain that paralyses us at times, and it is the one with which we choose to conquer. And we choose to conquer.”

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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.

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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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