Safe N’ Happy in a town called PIPLANTRI

Rajasthan is full of villages where one can still find the traditional Mud Chulha (Cooking System) and ways of living. Safe N Happy Periods visited one such village recently, called Piplantri. We traveled almost 800 kms on road for this trip to do workshops in Piplantri. On the way we stopped for blessings at Nathdwara (famous for Krishna temple).

We had the privilege of spending time with Shri Shyam Sundar Paliwal Ji, a man known for transforming this village. The village is known for doing commendable work for Girls, Trees and water under the leadership of Paliwal ji. We thought of doing our bit for such an inspiring village through our workshop. We got girls from Piplantri and nearby schools in one place and did a workshop for 250 plus girls.

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While the hall buzzed with enthusiastic conversations amongst boys and girls, SafeNHappy Periods held a workshop at IIT Bombay. Invited by AEVENUE, Sarika Gupta looked upon a class of more boys than girls eager to enlighten themselves about the journey of a girl ready for procreation; a girl on her period.

A whole line-up of statistical data and research aimed at breaking away from the taboo that surrounds menstruation, especially among rural women. In an experience shared by Mrs Sarika, she explained how one of the women in a rural area living in a joint family would share one piece of cloth between three women. The sheer lack of ignorance and hygiene prompted Sarika to initiate the campaign and invite people of all ages to join her.

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CREATING IDEAS: SNHP WITH THE STUDENTS OF IIT BOMBAY

Saturday 27, 2018
At IIT Bombay, Powai Campus

Safe N Happy Periods is invited at AEVENUES, IIT Bombay Campus for a positive discussion on Menstruation. Also there is a Sanitary Pad donation drive where you can donate Pads.

AEVENUES is an International Business festival of IIT Bombay, organized by Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management.

We invite you to join as a participant/ volunteer/ donor of Sanitary Pads.

Friday 26, 2018
At VDIS School of Mantally Challenged
Juhu, Mumbai

Thanks to ARUNIMA for this opportunity. We will be distributing sanitary pads to the girls of VDIS. Anybody who wants to donate pads are welcome. They can contact us or give the pads directly to Arunima or VDIS.

It is important to be at peace with yourself. It is important to feel confident in your own body. Most of all, it is really important not to be ashamed of something you are biologically programmed to have.

Upon my arrival in India, I learned a lot about its food, its culture, and some of its traditions. But I have to say, I was really surprised to learn how menstruation was perceived. For me and my friends, having our first periods was something to be proud of. Yes, it wasn’t something you publically announced but it was definitely not something to be ashamed of either.

By being a part of SNHP, I got a chance to observe and be in contact with women from various age groups and backgrounds. Seeing their reactions to what Sarika told them about menstruation, was eye-opening. I realized just how much I have taken my knowledge for granted: knowledge about my own biology, about menstrual hygiene and about pain-relief.

SNHP, in a way, helps these women and girls to embrace themselves and get rid of negative emotions surrounding this natural phenomenon via education. An education many don’t receive because most women are too shy to talk about it even with their daughters.

I had a great time working with Sarika and the other volunteers. I am so grateful for everything I’ve learned and experienced. It has been an unforgettable journey and while I’m sad I could only be a part of it for six weeks, I’m looking forward to seeing what SNHP achieves in the future.

Yasemin Daldal from Istanbul, Turkey
Andressa Grechi from Brazil

Being a volunteer on Safe N’ Happy Periods helped me to understand the reality of Indian women. The use of pads and tampons during the menstrual periods, considered common in other countries, it’s still a hot topic in India.

Many women still do not know how to use pads or the correct way to disposal it, they are shy and do not feel comfortable talking about periods. A topic considered so natural for me and spoke so freely in my country can become a nightmare for women in India.

Safe N’ Happy Periods do not just spread awareness, it changes lives. It changes the way women in India see themselves and make them be more confident, independent and proud about their bodies.

Check her video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqeDfJ1wvao

This MHM 2018, we continued with the efforts on creating menstrual awareness and education.  Safe N’ Happy Periods again reached out to women sex workers, this time the workshop was held in the Grant Road Centre of OASIS (a NGO that focusses on rehabilitation of men and women in the red light area).

Amongst all the pains, challenges and discomforts in which the women live there, we brought a smile to their faces. Like the previous workshop held in Kamathipura on the women’s day, this workshop was held in a small group of about 30 women. Being a delicate target group, having only a few participants creates a safer and more trustworthy environment for the women, which gave Sarika the opportunity to communicate directly to all of them. Due to this the participants had the space to ask questions and most importantly felt comfortable talking about menstruation.

Picture by: Lorena Guedes

Keeping in mind their lack of proper education and the trade they are in, they are always vulnerable to many diseases like STD’s, HIV, and Infections etc. Hence basics on menstrual hygiene were discussed in length together with answering their questions. Furthermore, Sarika talked about several instruments that help women during their periods, tampons, sanitation pads, menstruation cups etc. Most of the women seemed to merely have knowledge on the sanitation pads, so talking about tampons and menstruation cups created interest among the participants.

The most crucial aspect of the workshop which Sarika dealt with was the yoga poses for easing menstrual pain. There were volunteers from the participation group willing to help Sarika with demonstrating the yoga. There was a lot of laughter among the participants, which created an interactive atmosphere. The yoga was taken seriously and enjoyed too. Overall the participants seemed interested in what Sarika had to say and were looking forward to share this information with their daughters too.

Finally Safe N’ Happy Periods distributed free sanitation pads and yoga belts to OASIS at the end of the workshop. These are then shared among the women in the red light area to help them deal with menstruation properly. The participants enjoyed the workshop and showed particular interest in the topics discussed.

We would like to thank OASIS for giving us this opportunity and looking forward to many such workshops for their women. We urge people to contribute to these women in whichever way they would like to. Although we always try to distribute as much as we can, it is still not enough. A yoga belt does not cost much, and we appreciate everyone willing to donate to our cause.

MHM Day 2018 at Red Light Area – Mumbai
Ruchika Khemka

A Chartered Accountant

Assistant Manager – Finance department of Bunge India.

 

I have been volunteering with SNHP and I’m happy to be a part of an initiative that is spreading awareness about an important issue in India. I like doing yoga too and I believe that teaching yoga asanas to relieve period pain is very effective.

 I was enrolled in a 6 week women empowerment project called ‘Project Mulan’, of which 2 weeks were spent with Safe N’ Happy Periods. However, after the 2 weeks had finished, I made the decision to stay with this non-profit for the full duration of my time in India. I feel that this NGO is making a tangible impact on society – as well as distributing pads people have donated, the workshops themselves are invaluable for raising the confidence of young girls, reducing shame and preventing infection through unsafe hygiene practices and misinformation. The true impact from this non-profit is immeasurable, and there is no counting how many girls still think about Sarika Gupta’s workshop or use the yoga asanas on a monthly basis.

I feel passionate about helping to spread the message about this initiative and contribute to their work, especially having attended a workshop and seen how warmly welcomed and productive they are. As someone who has found themselves on unproductive volunteering programmes in the past, which are designed just to entertain the volunteer, I was able to recognize this project as one that is really worth my time and energy.

Rebecca from UK