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19 Oct 2021, Edition - 2289, Tuesday

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Coimbatore

Students lead way to menstrual hygiene in disadvantaged women

Jiji Ann Cherian

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Kochi: Sarah, Priti and Ayushi were just like any other carefree students till the day they made a casual visit to an orphanage close to their college. While talking randomly with the inmates there, mostly girls in their teens, they found they had never used a sanitary napkin and always depended on cloth during menstruation. The inmates loathed the days of their periods and silently bore the inconvenience. On top of it, they didn’t even have proper detergent to wash their clothes.

This set the three friends, students of law here, thinking on how to better the lives of the underprivileged girls and create awareness about hygiene. The fact that millions in India do not have access to basic hygiene and 70 per cent of reproductive diseases in the country are caused by poor menstrual hygiene put them on a mission to do whatever best they could.

As a first step they identified orphanages in and around Kochi with maximum women inmates and put up a poster on Facebook calling for volunteers among their hostel group to deliver sanitary napkins to those orphanages. They called their initiative Code Red. “At first we wanted this to be just amongst our friends,” says Sarah Fatima. But the idea clicked and soon they used the poster to reach a wider audience. Their friend Bhavna Firoz too helped with PR and communication.

“It was a spontaneous idea and we have learnt how small contributions make a big difference,” adds Sarah, whose after-class hours are now filled with the task of monitoring the delivery of sanitary napkins to the various orphanages by volunteers.

“Volunteers do the delivery themselves at times but the 7 pm hostel curfew is a constraint,” chips in Pritishree Dash who hails from Odisha. Recently the students started delivering biodegradable napkins by Kudumbasree to give their initiative a touch of women empowerment.

“I used to volunteer in school. But it’s different when you lead an activity,” says Pritishree who even uses the money she makes from selling bookmarks for her charity work.

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