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How The Pandemic Year Turned Out To Be The Biggest Learning Experience


2020, right?

A year of so many things. I do agree that 2020 wasn’t a wonderful year of a lot of events of happiness. But c’mon, if time is not co-operative, it doesn’t mean everything is going to turn bad. Always remember, whatever is going on all around, “Good things are everywhere, we just need to change our outlook.”

For me, 2020 was a year of realisation in which I got a lot of opportunities to learn new things. In other words, 2020 was like that strict teacher who doesn’t seem good to us, but in reality, they teach us perfectly.

I would like to share with you all a short story of mine.

For my studies, I was staying away from my home in a rental house back when the pandemic had just started and the Covid situation in India was not that furious. But all of the sudden, our Prime Minister announced a lockdown, and after hearing this news, I got stressed out. I started overthinking and due to this useless act by me, I fell sick. Next day in the morning, I found that I had fever and that wasn’t normal at all. I couldn’t go anywhere for the treatment due to all the restrictions during the lockdown and obviously due to the fear of Covid.

Representational image.

I decided to visit a nearby medical store for some medicines. I went there and came back. I was lying on my bed after I took my medicines. Suddenly, my house helper informed me that she would not be coming till the situation gets better. I was like, “Okay!” It shouldn’t be a problem for me because I’m kinda really comfortable with doing most of the household chores. But, but but. One thing that got me into trouble was that she also used to cook for me and honestly, I am not a good cook at all.

So, like any other individual, I called my mother and she suggested me to prepare khichri for myself. My physical weakness and my mental stress were not cooperating and I was not able to move properly. But still, I had to cook something because one can’t starve, right? With lots of courage, I moved towards my kitchen and started collecting my cooking ingredients.

Although my body temperature was getting back to normal, that feverish feeling was still there. I started preparing my food with the help of my mother and she was on call throughout. Honestly speaking, that was one of the most beautiful moments of my life 🙂 . Finally, my food was ready. I also burned my hand a bit, but who cares about these things after success. While I was leaving the kitchen, I felt that I had made this place very messy.

It seemed like I was not cooking for myself but for some kind of Bhandara. Yes, it was that messy. So I arranged the kitchen because my cleanliness streak was hitting me hard. Afterwards, I took my plate in the balcony and was enjoying my food while watching some good stuff on the internet . Yes, I was happy with my efforts. As the days passed, my cooking skill started improving. I had more time for my studies and yes, I tried to utilise it really well. I learned some healthy tips, too, like consuming honey without adding anything protects you from cough and mental stress and improves your overall health.

In 2020, many people were getting cranky. There could be many reasons for this, but for me, the whole scenario was a little bit different. I was stressed a bit, but not that much because I had accepted that this is the truth. And we can’t do anything except hoping for the best. And yes, it is also true that living alone is my favourite thing. Yes, you are guessing it right. I am a happy introvert and this thing was really helping me inside and outside. That’s why, I was feeling calmer unlike other people around me.

At last, I will say that the pandemic situation was not good for anyone around this globe, what matters is how you were accepting it. The year 2020 could be 70% negative, but obviously, 30% of it was positive.

But I can say now that I was able to convert that negativity into positivity and for me, I made the year 90 % positive. And for the rest 10% of the negativity, the credit goes to rumours.

Now I am at my own home with my family, enjoying everything and of course, learning more and more.

What I learnt during the lockdown:

— You shouldn’t stop because you can’t do it.
— Your existence for yourself is mandatory.
— To learn something, you have to be little bit adventurous.
And at last , if you have zero skills in cooking, listen to your favourite cook. For me, my mom is the best cook I have ever known.


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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.

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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.

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)’.

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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.”

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, 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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