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

My Story: How Me And My Family Got Through COVID

Hey autodidact, I am Mihir, 15 years old, I’ve been living in Delhi for a good 5-6 years. I study at St. Angels School, Delhi. My hobbies include dancing, singing and music and I suppose that’s a good introduction to start with, so let’s dive in!

This story is about how Covid affected me and my family back in January 2021. Around November-December of 2020, the cases of the novel disease had started decreasing in Delhi and everybody had started getting really casual about the disease. I don’t know if it is alright to say this but when you start seeing people around you hanging out in public places, kids playing in parks, and their parents’ never-ending chatting, you start feeling the urge to go out.

Reppresentational Image. Once cases started decreasing, nearly everyone started ignoring COVID rules.

Even if we had critiqued people for going out in these times, many of us also gave up on wearing a mask and being very strict with the guidelines. It’s not even a matter of a week and you’re coming home and procrastinating about washing those hands.

My maternal granny had been diagnosed with cancer in December 2020. My mom had been getting really depressed around this time because she’s really close with her mom and has never spent a day without talking to her at least an hour a day. She had constantly been thinking about visiting her for obvious reasons, even though I and my sister had been telling my mom not to go but seeing someone being so down you end up seeing yourself in their shoes and let them do what they want.

So my mom visited her, not knowing that my uncle had been fighting covid. I knew something was about to come up, I just had a bad gut feeling.

When she had come back from there she seemed sadder, leaving me and my sister feeling as if we had done wrong by letting her go. Weeks went by and this awkward aura started surrounding our home, I had been feeling colder than ever. I had felt the same fever during August time and had tested negative. This time I hadn’t told anyone, not even my sister, with whom I am really close it seems.

Anyways, on January 16, 2021, my mom and my dad were going to celebrate their 25th marriage anniversary. My mom was planning the event, her outfit, sending invitations to her friends and a few relatives, everything almost seemed alright, but you know the gut feeling pops up out of nowhere. My 9th-grade exams were approaching. Side thought I didn’t really study online or by myself, for the whole year, I had been procrastinating, watching youtube, web series, and more stuff just to stop the guilt of missing classes in an online institute my parents had enrolled me to come to my mind.

On 16th, my mom became really sick, so she had to cancel the plans. We took her and my covid test, but later in the night she became really sick, so we had to admit her to the hospital. My sister went with my mom to the hospital and me and my dad were left in the home.

Like any other night, I was bingeing on youtube. At this point, it seems like I am trying to degrade Youtube as an addicting app. Trust me it is, and I am not asking the government to ban it, just a few restrictions will do.

The next day morning my mom had been feeling better. I and my sister could not be anymore happier but I had tested positive, unfortunately, then come the calls from the relatives asking about our health, and if we are fine. Pretty much the same questions from everyone.

I hate this performative care and show-off a lot because later on, my mom told me that they were the same relatives who blamed my mom for the worsening of my dad’s health. It feels so frustrating when people who don’t even live with you and start forming such irrelevant gossips that too while knowing their situation.

But coming to my dad, I don’t want to talk a lot about him because he’s the person who’s the most personal to me besides my sister, to put it mildly, I have major daddy issues due to which I had to be admitted along with him. He was assigned a bed in another room having more patients than mine because his case was more serious than mine.

In there, at the start I felt really lonely to a point I had to hide my face with a mask, you can imagine the number of tears I was shedding at that point, then I talked with my mom, cried a little more, and then slept for really long. The hospital’s toilets were really dirty and I was acting really privileged with the people in there, I know it’s wrong and I am not going to defend myself, what’s wrong will always be wrong.

Four days went by, I was discharged from the hospital and so was my dad. When we reached home, it felt a little more suffocating at first, to be honest, but never mind it got better. Me, my mom, sister, and dad started joking about all those ridiculous comments by relatives plus how our experience was with the novel Coronavirus together and individually. I love that my parents and my sister had brought me up in a way that we spend so much of our time together. We also have our privacy terms and conditions but almost no one keeps a secret in the home except me and I am 15 so that’s pretty self-explanatory.

Coming back to this day and leaving the nostalgia behind, my parents and my sister have been vaccinated. They are healthy, so am I. I remember how I and my friends used to crack jokes on the steps taken by our prime minister but I guess our prime minister was right when he asked us to lit candles and turn off all the electrical appliances or when he asked us to bang utensils and to ring bells because covid is more than just a disease.

After all, it had become more like a topic to chat endlessly about, and honestly, I and my family were really lucky because had we been infected around March-April, then we would have had to arrange Oxygen tanks and beds and it would have been more of a mess and difficult.

Anyways that was mine and my family’s experience with Covid and I hope this story made you sympathize with people who have to leave their home for some issues, be them personal or professional, and perhaps also comprehend that we all have been asked to stay at home so we will have to because now 1 more disease has come up: Delta Plus variant.

For any feedback, please feel free to write!

mihirsingh2001.13@gmail.com

So I would like to conclude that tough times come but they also fade. It’s all just a matter of time so just be patient and take care of your family and friends. And if you are curious about how my exams went, let’s just say sometimes you don’t give your best but 10th is going well, all my internals have gone well and let’s just hope for the best and best of luck for your exams and dreams.

Thanks a lot for reading, it means a lot!

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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.

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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 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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