Sani-warriors: Menstrual hygiene warriors
Despite it being a bodily process that almost all women or girls, above and below a certain age, experience on a monthly basis, periods are still, unfathomably, considered a taboo. Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad came up with a project called WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in schools) to break all types of taboos related to periods. ASCI selected nearly 150 government schools and Government High School in Subedari, Hanumakonda is one among them.
Bharathi recollects her first period and says, “I still remember my first period and it was a school day. I cried a lot when I saw the blood coming out; it was a complete shock to me. And my mother and grandmother were normal, and they said, ‘it’s ok! No need to cry, this is common for every girl’. Everyone at the school asked my sister why I was not coming to the school and she said I was unwell.
Bharathi Kadari and Soumya Kadari attended the intensive training session on December 22, 2018. About the training they say, “They taught us everything about menstruation. The counsellors told us why eating nutritious food is important and why it’s okay to touch a plant even if you are in your periods. Now we know that it is a myth and no girl needs to sit like an outcast during her periods.”
Soumya says, “We can eat curd if you want to and it is not a forbidden food; and earlier we never used to touch flowers. Now we know that flowers don’t die if we touch during our periods and we can do all that we want to do during periods.”
About the training part of project WASH, they say, “The training session had many activities to help young girls understand their body, the bleeding process and about reproduction. We watched a video of ‘Ruby Lesson’, a character Ruby (girl) explained us about menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and do’s and don’ts at the time of periods.”
ASCI also released a book titled ‘All-round care during periods’, in both Telugu and English which tells about the food girls need to eat and different options to handle bleeding such as tampons, cups, etc. and how to keep a note of their periods. Bharathi and Soumya were shortlisted to be the `Sani Warriors' in the school. After attending this workshop, the girls are comfortable even talking to their dad and mom about periods. Soumya says, “Earlier my father used to ask me to rest or sleep during my periods but now when asks me so, I say I am comfortable. We work as in our normal days.”
In the workshop, the kids learned how to use a sanitary napkin, and how to dispose it. They, in turn, taught their mom and grandmother how to use hygienic napkins instead of cloth.
The school girls can get the napkins if they get periods at school hour from the Head Master’s premises as the Telangana government has provided the school with a menstrual hygiene kit for three months.