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The Success We See, The Hardwork We Don’t

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I am immensely pleased to extend a cordial welcome to all my readers. You might be reading this on your PC/Laptop practically sitting under a light bulb. But, have you ever thought it took more than 1000 attempts to make it. We all know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. We also know the famous quote “I have not failed I have just founded 1000 ways that don’t work!” But do we really acknowledge the hard work by Mr Edison? I don’t think we do!

Allow me to take you on a reading voyage, to help you realize that there is “no success stories without hard work”.

Muniba Mazari

Let me start the journey by telling you about the Iron lady of Pakistan – Muniba Mazari. Married at the age of 18, and just after 2 years of marriage, she met with a car accident that left her entire lower body paralyzed.

Her husband abandoned her even though he slept while driving the car, broke her in pieces, and then she decided to divorce her husband. She successfully did it. But due to this decision; family tension grew; her parents divorced each other. Shattered through all this, she still tried to hold up the broken pieces of her life. And then the biggest bomb of agony dropped on her: Doctors told her she can never be a mom. But despite all of this, she rose like a phoenix from ashes.

She became the First Pakistani UN Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women. She has been featured under the 100 influential women of 2015 (BBC). She has been featured in Forbes 30 under 30. My conclusion over here is this: Earning titles, gaining people’s support and love comes with huge sacrifices. Every person who is standing on the stage has gone through the worst of the worst things, the things that you don’t even want your enemy to face! It’s just the veil that hides all the bad things in their life.

JK Rowling

Moving on, towards the next stop in our reading voyage. Well, she is the creator of one ‘Who must not be named’. Well if you didn’t get the hint, she is also the creator of ‘The boy who lived’. Yes, yes, we are talking about none other than our favourite J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter.

Allow me to share her story. While she was working on her first book, she ended up with a failed marriage and a baby daughter. With no job, no source of income, she went through the worst a mom can face; she was not even able to properly feed her baby girl. She had hit rock bottom. She struggled with depression, but she somehow continued to work. The book was her last hope. But, it seemed like god was still not completed with her and more hurdles were on her way. Her book got rejected by 12 publishers in a line. 12 publishers!

Hold your breath and think if 12 well-established people denigrated your work, what you would have felt? Devastated? Depressed? But she was still clinging on that hope, and the rest is history; that we all know!

Still not convinced by my examples that every great story has many hardships behind the veil; wait for the next stop in our reading voyage!

File photo dated 13/03/14 of Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson who is selling his F1 McLaren supercar, despite it being involved in a crash which warranted one of the largest repair bills of all time. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 24, 2015. The car has a top speed of 240mph, but Atkinson said the majority of the 41,000 miles on the clock were undertaken while on the school run or visiting the shops. See PA story SHOWBIZ Atkinson. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Starting with a question, what’s the best way to spend a summer afternoon? Well, my family prefers watching Mr Bean with chilly flavour popcorn.  To be very open and blunt, I always thought about how easy his job is. And one day I accidentally dug a little bit deep in his story and find out how hard his life has been. In front of the veil, everything seems so happy, but behind it is the truth. The bare-naked truth. Bullied from a young age, called an ‘alien’ because of his face, outcast by society, this boy suffered from the beginning.

Agonized from a stuttering disability, he somehow managed to go to Oxford University for his graduation. But once again when he tried to move towards his passion for acting, the film industry abandoned him. Still, he built up courage and started working and ultimately in the end through hard labour, he brought a smile on hundreds of faces. Let me correct it, millions of faces including yours and mine.

I know we all are familiar with the stories of these great people, but I talked about them to help understand that it’s not a vanilla-story that made them what they are, but it’s the hardship behind it. The stories we all know, but the hardship we don’t, and my motto in this whole article was to make you realize how hard their life has been. With this, I am giving rest to my pen.

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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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