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Struggles Of Being A Public Servant: “It’s Almost Been A Year Since I’ve Met 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.

*Trigger Warning: COVID Deaths*

The COVID pandemic has been a prolonged nightmare for people around the globe. It has affected the masses in the worst way possible and no one is untouched by its ill effects. From the long queue of ambulances outside hospitals to the pile of dead bodies, from rendering people jobless to mass migration and suffering, it has scarred us all.

A huge number of people have lost their dear ones to this globe sweeping monster. And like everyone, I was not untouched by this.

Being a public servant comes with a lot of perks and added responsibilities. As the nation is grappling with the pandemic, my responsibility grows manifold. I am a banker and banks play a vital role in delivering the monetary help related to welfare schemes from the government to every household.

Crowd outside bank
Representative Image. Source: flickr

Banking has changed drastically under the present government. From being a privilege limited to the elite’s, it has turned into a tool for the social upliftment of underprivileged and marginalised sections of society.

But tackling the huge crowds amid a pandemic is scary and takes a toll on my mental health. We hear a lot about how maintaining social distance is necessary to win the fight against Corona. To my horror, there is an ocean of people waiting in line outside, paying no heed to the social distancing norms.

The place where I work is a village near the border of India and Bangladesh. It’s still underdeveloped and lacks many basic amenities, and access to better education is one of them. Though there are both government and private schools, the private ones are still a distant dream for the masses and the quality of education at government schools is highly questionable.

Being uneducated causes ignorance towards self and harm to others because of one’s actions. And a huge crowd of ignorant customers put us at grave risk.

Being in public service means you can’t avoid the people, Even when your mind is grappling with, “What if I get infected?” This helplessness often grip’s my mind. I start feeling numb and often wonder, “Will I survive this?”

Staying 1,500 miles away from home into the wilderness of border is in itself a mental agony and when the times are tough like this, it gives way to the worst of nightmares. Staying alone and with almost no one to talk to makes the going tougher altogether. Though the advancement of technology, i.e. video calls, has compensated a bit, it’s still not enough. The lack of a loved one besides me makes me feel vulnerable.

man looking out window
Representative Image.

It’s almost been a year since I have met my family. The continued pandemic and extended lockdowns have only prolonged that wait. I don’t know how to handle this. The news of colleagues losing their lives is so frequent that I feel like I am staring into death. At the end of every day, I thank god for letting me live another day and ask him to give me the strength to survive another.

I felt scared for my life and gasped for breath as the news of recently found a COVID patient in our locality. I try to find solace in entertainment. But while changing through channels with my remote, I come across a news channel showing piles of dead bodies and patients dying as there is not enough oxygen, and it sends a chill down my spines.

What if something happens to me? Will my body be lying amongst the pile of other dead bodies with no one to cremate me properly? These horrible and scary thoughts haunt me and make my eyes wet for a moment.

Death is inevitable and I can’t run from it. It’s the biggest truth of our life. But even the worst human being wants to die with dignity. Nobody wants their dead body piled up like garbage, unattended. But when I see those reports of dead bodies buried haphazardly, a deep ocean of hopelessness and fear engulf me.

Will I meet the same fate? Negativity like this surrounds me. But I try my best to shake it off and keep living. The hope that it will soon be over keeps me going, but the fear takes control every now and then, throwing me in a frenzy.

You must be to comment.
  1. Abhishek Pratap

    Very True…I just loved the way u have expressed the things with a hidden msg. Keet writing my friend. Good job 👍

  2. Neetu Mishra Jha

    Literally true. God never show such a nightmare. Salute to your service and patience as a public servant.

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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.

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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)’.

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.

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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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