Aya from Egypt

As a girl, I was always interested in women empowerment and fighting

for girls’ rights. I wondered why there are a lot of girls who are shy because of their bodies. I also felt sorry for those who can’t do whatever they want to do, study the thing that they are interested in and travel to places they want to visit and the reason of all that is that they are girls!!!

I went to India to work with a non-governmental organization called Safe N’ Happy Periods. This organization works to create awareness about monthly periods, to educate girls about their bodies, about hygiene, about what they can do and why they shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies. This is important because in India there are a lot of girls who feel ashamed and uncomfortable about their periods although it is such a natural thing. We often say women empowerment is a must, but how can we empower women who have problems with understanding their bodies and their period. I then realized that the work of Safe N’ Happy Periods is a great first step for the sake of real women empowerment.

 

 

“Safe N’ Happy Periods” was invited by Rave Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. (an IT software and services company based in Worli, Mumbai) to conduct a short workshop as part of their Women’s Day initiative for social awareness.

The workshop was held at Kamathipura, for girls and women associated with the NGO Oasis India. Oasis India is an NGO who work for the betterment of underprivileged women and children. At their Kamathipura centre they are involved in providing safe shelter and homes for children in an unsafe environment, engage them in after-school education and activities and help them find appropriate employment. This way they help girl victims of human trafficking and daughters of the sex workers in Kamathipura to achieve a bright future.

The workshop went very well. The girls and women were very interested and listened carefully. They learned about the biological importance of menstruation, the right menstrual hygiene practices, the different sanitary products they could use and the right way to dispose sanitary napkins. Besides this, they learned ways to reduce pain through yoga and the need to discard superstitions and myths surrounding menstruation. Educating these girls and women about the importance of menstruation and menstrual hygiene is all the more important as most have not had access to the right information and resources, until now. This workshop provided them with vital information, while also helping them to feel more secure about their menstrual cycles and bodies, which is an important step to empowerment.

We were very happy to conduct this informative interactive session for these girls and women. This workshop has been an exciting and inspiring event for both the attending girls as well as for us and our international volunteers. We hope to work with Oasis India and Rave Technologies in the future to reach even more girls and women in the same situation.

Workshop at Kamathipura, for girls and women associated with the NGO Oasis India
Clementine Udine from Italy

My first hand experience with Safe N’ Happy Periods took place in the Global Village, an AIESEC event where a lot of students from different countries all over the world come together to share their culture and experiences.  This year it was organized at the Pillai College of Navi Mumbai, and Dorian (another volunteer from China) and I had the opportunity to set up a stand for SNHP and represent the NGO in front of the students who attended the event. In the previous weeks we had worked in the office, doing researches, updating databases, planning visits to schools and colleges; at the Global Village we had the chance to meet students and talk to them about our experience of volunteering for SNHP, sharing our opinions about menstruation related issues and showing them the activities done so far by the NGO. I was impressed by the interest showed by the majority of the girls I talked with, they were aware of the importance of improving menstrual awareness among young girls and they strongly supported our cause. It’s clear that these girls want to change traditional perspectives about periods, they really want to talk about it shame-less and freely, while there were some guys who felt uncomfortable when I asked them some questions about this topic. Then I realized how much work is still needed to reach a real shame-free menstruation time for every woman in the world. In my opinion SNHP is a significant starting point to achieve this goal, a push to change mentalities and behaviors. It’s up to everyone let women to live happily their periods; I’m glad to have the opportunity to give my contribution to a cause I strongly believe in.

Final Year Bachelor of Business Administration

DY Patil Institute

You never stop learning. Yes!

Safe N’ Happy Periods gave me this chance to learn many new things. I always wanted to join an initiative which is working to break taboos surrounding Menstruation. Volunteering with SNHP has given me guidance, knowledge, and awareness of the challenges women encounter. I’m glad that I’m part of this initiative and though I have a busy schedule with my studies I always look forward to contributing to this great cause.

Priya

To put it in a nutshell, my volunteering experience with Safe N’ Happy Periods was one of the most rewarding and mind-opening experiences of my life. Right from the start, Sarika – the founder and good spirit of Safe N’ Happy – encouraged us to challenge the structures that we found and to come up with new ideas of how to improve the work of the initiative. Apart from administrative work, my tasks included meeting school and university officials to arrange workshops, writing blog entries and reports and assisting Sarika in delivering the workshops.

The most memorable experience was to accompany Sarika to MIJWAN, an NGO run by Bollywood celebrity Shabana Azmi Ji in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. Staying and working in this rural setting was a challenging, but extremely rewarding experience. To see with how much curiosity and gratefulness girls and women followed the workshops, how they practiced the yoga asanas and how they started talking more openly motivated me throughout my entire stay.

The longer I work with Safe N’ Happy, the more I realise how invaluable this initiative is in making women feel more confident about themselves and their bodies. To create awareness and adequate knowledge about menstruation and to ensure that women are no longer disadvantaged in society, there is still a long way to go, but Safe N’ Happy is taking a great step towards these goals and I am proud to be part of this journey.

If you want to contact Isabella about her experience with Safe N’ Happy Periods, please write an e-mail to: isabella.hilber@hotmail.com

I am a German law student and I have worked for Safe N’ Happy Periods for about six weeks. First, other volunteers and I interviewed Indian girls about their opinions on menstruation and the way society deals with the topic. We made a video of it, which shows the extent that women’s periods are still a taboo in Indian society. Secondly, I am happy to say that I was a part of an event for Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017. Together we promoted the event and held a workshop about menstruation in a slum in the area of Navi Mumbai. Donating sanitary pads to the Indian women was an important part of it. Personally, I learned that there is a need to talk about women’s periods in India without falling into any superstitions or being shy about it. Women should have the opportunity to know what happens with their body and what can make them feel better. I warmly recommend everybody to support the young initiative of Safe N’ Happy Periods. You soon feel like a proper part of it and you are free to work on the domain you are interested in.

My name is Marine and I am from France. I worked for Safe N’ Happy Periods for 3 weeks in May 2017. I worked on an event which was a menstruation workshop for girls and women in a slum in CBD Belapur, for Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017. From the preparation to the realisation, I acted at each step with Sarika Gupta. The event was a huge success, and I was so glad to meet Indian women and to share my experience with them. I also worked on the website and social media, including updating Facebook, Instagram, and creating a Tumblr blog, to help make Safe N’ Happy Periods more well known.

The experience of working for Safe n’ Happy Periods was one of the most valuable experiences in my life. However, the beginning was difficult. It was not only my first time volunteering abroad, but also the first time in India and in Asia. What I enjoyed most about the work was the direct contact with the girls and women we worked with and the possibility of sharing our experiences concerning menstruation issues. I feel that I somehow contributed to the big change Sarika is trying to implement in the Indian society, but also that I have learned a lot myself.

 

 

Julia from Poland 
Emma from USA

At SNHP, I learned a lot about India and women’s empowerment work. One aspect of interning at SNHP that stood out to me as unique was the opportunity to take initiative, and within that, to collaborate with diverse groups of people.

I loved being immersed in the culture of ingenuity where people are adaptable and problem solve with available resources. This empowering culture was especially notable in the grassroots non-profit organization that is SNHP.

Sarika’s story inspired us interns to creatively employ our own experiences and abilities to contribute to the cause, including researching, language skills, writing, and web design.

Moreover, from cell phones that would not call Indian numbers and misunderstanding accents to taking wrong turns when traveling to meet with interested schools, interning at SNHP refined my communication skills, sense of direction, and above all, my problem solving skills. I saw how taking initiative and implementing ideas resulted in positive outcomes and opened a whole new world.

 

 

Studying in First Year Law Student, Delhi

Home at BARC, Mumbai

I became part of Safe and Happy Periods during my last summer vacation and continue to volunteer with SNHP today. This organisation breaks age-old stereotypes surrounding menstruation. Volunteering for SNHP itself challenges taboos, it makes a statement that periods are something worth talking about. Seeing SNHP inspire school girls to talk about something that society had told them not to talk about.Fighting to break these deeply entrenched stereotypes is a mammoth task but Sarika and her team make it look effortless, I am inspired by their hard work and determination.

Menstruation is not a disease and this is a belief that I have held for the longest time, but working with SNHP helped me inspire the same feeling in the hearts and minds of other girls who are often pulled down by the societal stereotypes. SNHP is not merely a mission to liberate girls and women from the clutches of the negative stereotypes about menstruation but rather is a movement to change the society altogether by inviting everyone, regardless of their gender, to participate in this talk that should have begun ages ago.

Oshika Nayak