Covid-19

How this 18-year-old girl propagated safe menstrual hygiene practices

Working with a volunteer-based organisation, Apeejay, Noida student Ereena advises women to break away from period myths

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Ereena Chadha

Determined to engage in social work shortly after completing class 10, Ereena Chadha, a class 12 Commerce student at Apeejay School, Noida was advised by a friend to join Robin Hood Army, a pan-India volunteer based, zero-funds organisation that primarily works to provide food from restaurants to serve it to the less fortunate sections of the society.

Ereena an active ‘Robin’ of the organisation since 2019, has been part of its various local chapters, over a span of two years, participating in numerous food, clothes, and ration donation drives. She has also been associated with the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Foundation to provide food, medical supplies to migrant workers and labourers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In an interview, she talks about her learnings and says each member of the society must do some good deed on a regular basis. Read on:

What major initiatives did you take up in your journey?

With the Robin Hood Army, I have done weekly food drives. Every Saturday morning, I along with a group of volunteers would go to specific villages and sectors in Noida to distribute food. We did a few ration and clothes drives as well and since Covid-19, our aim has been to spread health-related awareness as well.

Which areas have you visited for the drives?

I have specifically catered to Gejha village which is located near my home in Noida. Along with teaching the inhabitants about safe Covid-19 protocols, we had also organised a campaign to provide them vaccination. At the village, I taught women and girls about proper sanitation and menstrual hygiene practices.

How were the sessions with women and children like?

In Gejha, we taught women how to use a sanitary napkin and keep a check on it during the day. We advised them to maintain a diary for their monthly cycle and consult a nearby doctor if they experience any changes in it. We informed young mothers about the nutritional needs of their children and further advised children and older women about how they could keep their surroundings clean for a healthy life, especially during Covid-19.

Did you feel that there is still a lot of stigma attached to periods?

Yes, very much. I recall a woman walking up to me to ask about the myths attached to it. I sensed from her conversation that women in their community weren’t allowed to go out of their homes during periods. She asked me if it’s true that they weren’t supposed to touch idols during that time, to which I informed her that if she is maintaining hygiene, she can do what she wants. In several cultures, women still observe these traditional practices. However, I personally disagree with these. Women are birth-givers and periods are a normal bodily function.

What has been your learning through these social initiatives?

I realised that India still requires a lot of work to be done in providing basic necessities to its citizens. If there weren’t too many volunteer-based organisations existing in the country, chances are high of the lesser privileged section of the society falling under complete neglect. During my visits, I noticed hunger in people’s eyes and despite our best efforts, there are so many things that are yet to be done. Most people living in these ‘urban villages’ are suffering from depression, and are unaware about how to take care of themselves and their families. It’s not just about poverty but also mental health. I believe that each member of the society needs to engage in some good deed as it is human and necessary.

Where are the existing loopholes in society, according to you?

It all starts with awareness and education. There exists aggression in people because they aren’t provided with the basic necessities for a decent living. During Covid-19, those who were working as house-helps, construction workers etc. lost their daily wages and did not have any savings to rely on. I feel that members of the society should step up to help them, since they do not have a stable income to support themselves. They tend to seek happiness in smaller things of life, which is a virtue we all can learn from them. 

Mrini Devnani is Senior Correspondent (Newsroom). She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has a passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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