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

In 4th Standard I Realised The Friend’s I Had Made Were Fake

It was a regular morning of a 9-year-old girl roaming pointlessly before the assembly in the school corridor.

So the 9-year-old girl is me. I was moving towards “4 A” and I saw the board. I increased my speed of footstep and after a while, I was on the big blue gate and after a pause I stepped inside the class with a smile which was important as the tradition to greet that lady sitting on the red comfy chair, having herself half down and pretending herself like a dictator (so yeah, I did. I bowed down with a smile and greeted her).

It was one of the darkest times for a student of the 4th standard when none of the students is talking to you and you have no friend. I took my seat and started thinking about who was to blame for my situation.

There were 15 mins in the prayer assembly so you can join me here.

I was the kind of girl with a great amount of confidence, carelessness, manner, creativity and laziness. These were my characteristics while being a kid from kindergarten to 3rd standard. I wasn’t popular neither was I a part of a specific group nor had a duo like Jai and Veeru.

So to seek some attention, I joined a group of three girls whom I used to admire from 1st standard after section reshuffling. But they didn’t let me in the group, they had certain tasks for me (now that I look back samjh nahi aata bhai group tha ya roadies).

Representative Image.

So somehow Astika from 1st standard managed to get entry in that group which consisted of three supercool girls.

They had their own unwritten rules:

  1. You can not talk to someone who had a fight with any of them.
  2. You cannot share your lunch with others before them.
  3. You have to score more than 25 out of 30 in the unit test to stay in the group (although they hardly get 16 or 17 in social or English).

They keep asking me random things like 18×19, 17 ×4 or 19×8 which I think is the worst part of their company. I know why they do it, obviously to keep me aware that I am a universal dumbo in maths. Being so honest be tables made me cry more them 100 times because I believe multiplication tables are the most sophisticated thing that could really exist.

And I still couldn’t believe that I have been so disciplined for almost 3 years straight. I did everything they wanted me to do just for validation.

But between this period of time, I gradually became a girl with a bad attitude toward people and bossy nature. These things are still in my personality a little and that is what I hate about myself. I soon started feeling unworthy, useless. Sometimes I see myself as a nerd and other times like a bitch.

And as I was coming to the 4th standard, I decided that I just couldn’t take this anymore. So I did what I thought was right (it was an agenda for me, now it sounds funny).

So, first of all, I stopped talking to them and they were not even affected by it. I started sitting far away from them and of course, for that, they asked the whole class not to talk to me as they termed me Ajeeb (now I genuinely believe that they were the kind of villains in Ekta Kapoor’s shows).

So that is it, and today I’m here sitting all alone. Nobody in the class is talking to me. And I’m finding who is guilty of all this. So, I guess I myself am guilty because I should know that I’m good enough just the way I am.

As the bell rang, we have to stand in our respective places, for the prayer whose lyrics gave me hope for the very very first time,
or I have noticed it for the first time in my entire school life to the date. It goes:

“We shall overcome,
We shall overcome.
We shall overcome, someday.”

Although, it’s a revolutionary song, enough to give hope for once because this represents the certainty of a better future.

After that, I survived the 4th standard and then I changed my school. Sometimes thing doesn’t mean better, it just means change.

𝓘𝓯 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓪𝓻𝓮 𝓼𝓽𝓲𝓵𝓵 𝓲𝓷 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓼𝓽𝓸𝓻𝔂 𝓸𝓯 𝓽𝓱𝓪𝓽 9 𝔂𝓮𝓪𝓻 𝓸𝓵𝓭 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓻𝓮𝓪𝓭𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝓽𝓲𝓵𝓵 𝓱𝓮𝓻𝓮,
𝓣𝓱𝓮𝓷 𝓘 𝓬𝓪𝓷𝓷𝓸𝓽 𝓽𝓱𝓪𝓷𝓴 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓮𝓷𝓸𝓾𝓰𝓱 𝓯𝓸𝓻 𝓽𝓱𝓲𝓼 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓶𝓸𝓼𝓽 𝓲𝓶𝓹𝓸𝓻𝓽𝓪𝓷𝓽𝓵𝔂 𝓲𝓯 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓬𝓸𝓾𝓵𝓭 𝓻𝓮𝓵𝓪𝓽𝓮 𝓽𝓱𝓲𝓼 𝓮𝓿𝓮𝓷 𝓪 𝓫𝓲𝓽 𝓽𝓱𝓮𝓷 𝓬𝓸𝓷𝓰𝓻𝓪𝓽𝓾𝓵𝓪𝓽𝓲𝓸𝓷𝓼.

𝚂𝚊𝚢 𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚘 𝚝𝚘 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝗙𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗙𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀.

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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.

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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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