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How Young Volunteers Used Art As An Aid To Rebuild Post COVID India

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

In a world bereft with new situations and new normal, a group of young people and new organisations showed resilience during pandemic and have adopted the role of healers.

Pravah, a civil society organisation working with young people runs a youth leadership and social entrepreneur programme called ‘Changelooms‘. Changelooms invites young people interested in being change makers and building their own social enterprise to enroll for a year-long programme to gain skills to sustain their social enterprises. 

youth training
Youth group meeting at college – Atma Prakash Foundation, Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

During the pandemic, the Changeloom fellows across states realised the need to support their communities and show how hope is born through compassion and empathy. The new normal of COVID also taught these young change makers and their new organisations new ways of survival and resilience in the face of multiple odds.

In these situations, 6 Changeloomers across more than 6 states are joining hands to rebuild India by supporting vulnerable communities gain livelihood, access healthcare and daily rations.

All Dreams FoundationAnvarat FoundationGramUrja, I am Well Being, Atma Prakash and Samaveshak Samajik Vikas Sansthan began these efforts through an online fundraising campaign called ‘Art Aid’. The uniqueness of the fundraiser is that through this, the Changeloomers are collaborating and supporting artists to gift art products as a show of gratitude to donors. Every donation over INR 500 (15 USD) gets some handmade goodies from collaborating artists. These include :

  • Come back to yourself, often,” a Mind Ki Care Journal by Aatmaprakash
  • Set of 10 postcards of art and poems by The Alipore Post and Compassion Contagion
  • An upside-down portrait by Atypical Advantage-  a platform for artists with disabilities
  • A tote bag full of art goodies by Compassion Contagion
nukkad natak
Street theatre for awareness on COVID – Anvarat Foundation, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

“Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful, make loneliness a shared experience, and transform despair into hope. “-Brené Brown

That is precisely what these Changeloomers are doing. Through the Art Aid fundraiser they want to transform despair into hope and turn the devastating tragedy caused by the pandemic into a collective healing experience. 

The fundraiser is being run in collaboration with Compassion Contagion, Atypical Advantage + The Alipore Post and is live on the online fundraising platform Milaap.

In the past 17 months these Changeloomers have been able to work to ensure: 

  • dry ration support to women, daily wage labourers who lost their work 
  • provide mental health support to children, adolescents and adults from marginalised communities
  • free medical consultation, vaccination drives, mental health counseling
  • provide COVID safety kits to frontline workers in rural areas
  • provide oxygen support to below poverty line patients
  • build awareness on vaccine hesitancy 

We request you all to join this endeavour by young people to re-build India and contribute to the collective journey of hope and healing. With every donation, you’ll help communities recover.

To know more write to avarna.ojha@pravah.org or visit the link here – https://milaap.org/fundraisers/rebuilding-post-covid-india 

Introducing The Changeloomers

Prarthana Sharma is a Changeloomer from the September 2020 batch. She is a practicing psychologist for the past 7 years and is empanelled with IIM, Indore. As a founder and director of a 4-year-old NPO named Aatma Prakash Foundation, she endeavors to offer emotional support to those in distress with acceptance, respect, and empathy. 

She is currently working with 20+ government and private schools in Delhi and Indore and  an ecosystem of 248+ young & aspiring psychologists who have received training with the organization.

Anvarat Foundation founded by Manas Mohan and Shweta Shukla in 2015 works to provide equal opportunity through quality healthcare, skill based education and dignified employment.

Through their COVID response programme they are working to support women for regeneration of livelihood in rural and urban slums along with setting up COVID care centres at rural level to isolate and treat asymptomatic and mild COVID cases. They have also undertaken free distribution of masks, nutrition supplements, dry ration and vaccine awareness and inoculation drives. 

Youth distributing masks
Hand made mask distribution – Anvarat Foundation, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Ravi Chauhan and Nishant Narayanan, founders of All Dreams Foundation that works to change the lives of young boys and girls in the rural parts of India, currently focused in Mumbai and Karnataka, by empowering them to develop skills and knowledge to escape their disadvantageous backgrounds through Rugby and Football. Under covid relief, they have provided dry ration, health and sanitising awareness to 200 families.

Shaila Yadav, founder of Samaveshak Samajavik Vikas Sanashthan has supported people of the nomadic tribal family with ration and has also worked to provided livelihood of these people.  

Pallavi Singh and Akansha Chandele, members of I am Well Being are part of the Changelooms programme. I Am Wellbeing is an organization of mental health professionals dedicated to providing mental health support to vulnerable children and young people living in adverse conditions.  

I Am Wellbeing started a helpline to support the mental wellbeing of the citizens in 2020 when the first wave of COVID hit India. After 3 months of operation, the helpline started providing support to people who have experienced loss due to COVID and supported the Delhi Government’s initiative of plasma donation.

In 9 months, they were able to reach out to 80,000+ families and trained 1000+ counsellors in providing mental health support. After the closing of the helpline, the organisation started its initiative to provide consistent trauma-informed social-emotional learning support to children from marginalised communities. 

Collaborative Gifts

Mind Ki Care Journal

This journal is created with an intention to prioritize mental health and allow for people to share without the fear of being judged. It is intricately designed using four major approaches to psychology so that one can reflect and discover themselves a little more. https://www.aatmaprakash.com/shop

Postcards of Art and Poems

It is conceived by Compassion Contagion and lovingly curated by The Alipore Post- featuring some of the finest poets and artists. Their art and poetry will help you heal and bring some joy and hope in these dark times.

Upside down portrait from Atypical Advantage

Ajay’s life turned upside down after a fatal Bike accident & post the trauma he channelized his energy into Art. He has perfected the skill of upside-down Painting which tricks the brain into painting what is exactly in front of the eyes instead of leveraging one own imagination of what a part must look like. Check here for more info – https://atypicaladvantage.in/arts/upside-down-portrait/188

All images have been provided by the author.

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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 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 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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