This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Diya Sharan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How I Dealt With COVID In My Family

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

My COVID Story

Many of you must be thinking that I contracted the virus, however, It’s not about me in this article. It’s about how I dealt with Covid amongst two of my family members- my mother and my father. No, thankfully, by God’s grace, both their infections were mild so there wasn’t anything to worry about.

a kiosk in kerala where people can walk in to get tested for COVID-19
Representational Image

My father and my mother’s test came back positive, initially leaving me helpless and confused.

I was standing there with a mask at a distance behind my father, who was checking for the test results on his laptop, scared to death. We already knew that mom had got the infection because a few days before she had lost her taste and smell. That time when my father said, “ Two people are infected and two are safe”. I was pretty sure that I also had it, but it actually turned out to be my father. My mother was already quarantined for a day or two, my father joined her that day too

There I was confused, helpless, hopeless, and weeping that my worst nightmare came true. I was so disturbed that even though my parents were always so careful, in fact extra-careful, they still contracted it. You all must be wondering that this story is just going to be sad, but guess what? You’re wrong!

Here comes the twist. Of course, like anybody would get a shock of their life, I did too. Perhaps it made me stronger to deal with it. I thought to myself that no, I’m not going to just sit there and cry, let’s just help because if you help someone in need, you would feel so good and that’s what I did. I did multi-tasking of my college classes in the mornings as well as attended to calls or messages of my mother if they needed food or water.

I didn’t feel so bad later on because of my wonderful and helpful neighbors and house-helper. There was a WhatsApp group that was formed where people listed who would give lunch, snacks, and dinner.  Ahh, how mouthwatering and amazing were those delicacies and snacks. I loved every bit of them.

As they say, food and music are the most amazing combinations, both of these things lightened up my days. I played music on my Bluetooth speaker to cheer up my brother Sachin. Lunches and dinners ranged from pao bhaji to rajma chawal, my favorite daal- Arhal Dal, and paneer. Evening snacks included cupcakes, Sachin’s favourite-Somosas, Seekh Kebabs, cheese toast, garlic bread, and so on. All of this sounds like a dream to you all right? I’m so grateful to all those neighbors who helped us in any way, relatives, friends, and family friends who also called to check up on us, I felt so loved.

Socializing In Quarantine

On the 18th of April was Sachin’s birthday, sadly it was an isolated birthday for him, truly not what we imagined but with the help of his special educator, we blew balloons, ordered a cake, and decorated the house. We even video-called each other as a family, it was quite a sight, all of us in three different rooms and cutting the cake on video! It was quite an experience!

It wasn’t all sad as we occupied ourselves watching our favorite shows, dancing, and singing. My close friends called up and had an online dinner with me, we usually didn’t do this but this was also quite exhilarating. Personally, I did feel lonely at times and very overwhelmed by the cases outside but that’s what made me realize that not everything is in our hands. All we can do is try our best to stay out of the situation but even if it does happen, add some humor to it and take it in a positive light.

zoom class
Representational Image

My friends called to check up on me and we even had a virtual dinner.

Last but not the least, I want to remind all of you that if you ever experience what I have been through along with my family, initially, it will be challenging but once you get used to it, it gets better. There are always perks to every situation, I got more freedom, but yes jokes apart, I learned to take care of myself alone and my parents from a distance. You can always help people in many ways even if you are miles apart from them.

I learned to be more understanding, patient and stayed alone like an independent adult (except of course the food sent by neighbors). Overall, I did go through an array of emotions over the past two weeks in isolation. Remember, you are not alone, if you need help, reach out, there will always be friends who will check on you. I truly want to thank my best friends and friends who stayed in touch with me who gave me emotional support, it’s truly needed. Remember, tough times don’t last forever, this was a tough one but I managed, so can you!

Created by Diya Sharan

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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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