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This NGO Is Educating Children Of Digha Slum In Patna For 2 Years

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This is among one of initiatives started by the NGO Being Social-Ek Nayi Shuruaat. The name of the initiative is ‘Kalapathshala’. The purpose of this initiative inculcating education and moral values among children living in orphanages and slums. These children are taught moral values, skills development, culture and life skills. The first branch of Kalapathshala started in a slum in Ghaziabad in 2017. The second branch opened in Patna (Digha slum- Malin Basti) on January 10, 2019.

We started our session with an interactive round to get familiar with the kids. This is because according to people living in the basti, many people come to gain popularity in the field of social work instead of doing real ground work. They click photos and make false promises.

Thus, our first task was to gain trust, only then could we expect cooperation from them. We clicked pictures and shared live videos, but only with the motto of creating awareness. There is a difference between promoting and making people aware. The plus point for us was that there were many school-going kids there — most children went to government schools, while a few went to private schools. So, they had a rough idea about their subjects and the books.

But the problem they were facing was that of their environment as well as school teachers, who were not providing them enough guidance. There were few children who were not enrolled in any school. They were our first priority because we had to work more on them. As days passed by, we got to know that these kids only had bookish knowledge, which was not enough.

The purpose of our teaching was not just to help them pass their exams. It was more than that. In order to make studies interesting and retain longer, we adopted a different teaching style. It kept in mind overall personality development and confidence-building. We want to bridge the gap between children from slums and other areas.

government school
Representative image

We took the help of different activities to bridge this gap. First of all, we divided them into groups: Basic, Intermediate and Advance. We conducted a three-hour class every Sunday. Just like in schools, we started with a prayer. This year, we followed the prayer session with a half-hour yoga session (as yoga is useful for both mind and body) followed by teaching respective subjects.

Our main focus is on communication skills, hence, we would conduct oral classes to rectify their pronunciation, This helped them gain confidence while speaking in front of the class. For motivation, we also used to gift them stationery items. We not only focused on studies, but on overall development, which also includes cleanliness and hygiene.

  • Daily bathing, regular trimming of nails
  • For oral hygiene, we would conduct dental check-up camps on a regular basis. Apart from inculcating awareness, we used to distribute kits, and if needed, treatment was also done as per requirement.
  • For menstrual hygiene, we organised awareness sessions on a regular basis under the head Carefree Laado. In this, we would break taboos and myths regarding menstruation, telling them how to take proper care during period days, distributing sanitary napkins.
Representative image.

We treat them like our family members, so we celebrate every festival with them under the head ‘Festival for All’. On Republic Day and Independence Day every year, we talk to them about the importance of our country. We celebrate Holi with flowers, on Diwali, we decorate our surrounding, make Rangoli and distribute sweets. They celebrated Children’s Day, Christmas and New Year with us for the first time in their life. Just like Annual Day in schools, we also organise KalaPathshala on January 10 every year.

As I had mentioned earlier, they are like our family members so we are always there for them in times of need, be it groceries or hygiene kit donation drive. For example, during the sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when a lockdown was imposed and they were facing issues such as shortage of groceries for their daily meals, we arranged groceries for them with the help of our donors. We also got contribution from Dainik Bhaskar as well as support from Bihar police. According to us, sanitary napkins are also a part of monthly needs and thus, we distributed pads with soap and mask for each household.

Under our social initiative Blanket Donation Drive, we distributed blankets during chilly winters. Similarly, under the initiative Cloth Donation Drive, we distributed new clothes on the eve of New Year. A big thanks to all supporters, contributors who have been an integral part of our journey. I am very grateful to all volunteers who are our backbone. So, if you are a real changemaker, make education your main tool. You can donate and help people if you wish to, but if you want to see real change, you must educate them and make them aware.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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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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