Shuma Banik, an engineer by degree and a Gandhi fellow, worked with 60 schools in Surat district to create awareness around menstrual health management. Out of all the processes that she went with her fellow mates during the Fellowship, Community Immersion was the most important, in which they had to stay with a student’s family in the village. During her first Community Immersion, she got a chance to interact with a lot of girls from the community and got to know how they miss out on classes and even drop out from school as soon as they get their periods. Due to lack of knowledge about menstruation and unhygienic practices, they get infections which impact their health and education.
In line with the processes of fellowship, she started an initiative called ‘Happy Periods’, with the vision of creating period ready schools and villages. Happy Periods is working towards menstrual awareness by keeping Asha workers (local health worker of the village), teachers, parents and head masters engaged.
Happy Periods sessions are conducted with Video Learning Materials by Menstrupedia, Menstrupedia comics, activity booklets, 3 art activities and few reflective activities. Their vision is to create period ready schools, villages and communities all over India by bringing into practice the idea of sustainable menstruation.
Happy Periods has reached to 657 girls from 11 villages across 3 blocks, Olpad, Bardoli and Mahuva. After each workshop, when Shuma with her team conducted the End-line with the help of a questionnaire, the girls told the team that they felt much more confident about Periods and they won’t skip their classes because of periods after this and most importantly, they don’t consider themselves impure anymore. They told that they are no more afraid of periods and believe that menstruation is a normal process.
The Menstrupedia comic books that are distributed are kept in the libraries of the schools and one teacher is given the responsibility to help the girls understand the comic so that this becomes a part of their school process.
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