OUR YOUTH CHAMPIONS
This project has challenged the taboo associated with period and girls in the village have understood the importance of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). These girls have been engaged through consultations to create awareness on the ill effects of using cloth during period. All those efforts were reversed with the unavailability of pads during pandemic as they were forced to use cloth and started getting infections.
The very next morning I contacted several Anganwadi workers to check if they had stocks of sanitary napkins. They all answered in the negative. I became worried about the 300-odd girls belonging to that village. I put on my mask, gloves and carrying a pack of sanitizer traveled to the village to make the girls sign an application addressed to the Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM).
We then rushed to meet the SDM to alert him about the needs of these girls. However, in the wake of the pandemic, the meeting was not successful. He was unable to help us. I was disappointed.
I took my scooty and went to meet the community health centre (CHC) head of Osian village. I did not receive any response, yet I kept pursuing the little hope I had. Finally after some hours of negotiation, he agreed to provide a carton full of sanitary napkins -- however there was no vehicle to dispatch them.
After getting a confirmation, all I could think of at that moment was my scooty. I rode my scooty for about 28 kilometres to collect the pads from the CHC and then personally delivered them to the girls who had sought help. I was happy that I could do this much for these young girls. Their parents blessed me.
We have been working on menstrual hygiene along with these girls. We would have failed ourselves had we not been able to reach them when they needed us most.
Renu works as Cluster Coordinator under Marriage No Childs Play Project run by Save the Children and the Urmul Trust in Osian block, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She works with our partner NGO to support community and adolescents through trainings to girls on their health rights, mobilisation around menstrual hygiene and other critical issues.
(with excerpts from Renu’s interview with eNewsroom)