The Young Brigade Promoting Menstrual Hygiene
28th May, recognised as Menstrual Hygiene Day.
As COVID-19 hit the entire world, Rannveir and Sidhant Malik felt gratitude for the comfortable and safe life they enjoyed. They also felt an overwhelming urge to ‘do something,’ for the lesser privileged. It started as a simple act of caring for others soon became a mission, and Santa Brigade was born.
The young boys got their act together with the direction of their father and brigade of Santa across the country was soon ready. Since it was during the first lockdown and mask was what was needed across the strata, the brigade of children and youngsters concentrated on the same.
Having felt the joy of receiving in giving and sharing, suddenly for the boys and Team Santa, “the life seemed to have had a bigger purpose.’’
While visiting the slum areas and speaking to people, the realisation for the need for greater hygiene donned- this time it was for girls & women staying in limited conditions compromising on their health & hygiene. The concentration from mask distribution got extended, and the focus was on Period Essentials. That’s when the duo and the brigade began the ‘Period Dignity’ campaign. They took help and guidance from elders and advisors on the Santa Brigade forum and reached out to small women-led businesses that manufactured sanitary pads. They, along with their friends, raised money, cajoled their families into helping and ensured a constant stream of sanitary pads.
The boys found it shocking that many people were averse to the idea of even talking about menstruation, let alone realising the gravity of the problem at hand.
It was important to ‘talk’ about periods, they realised. That was the the onset of research and data gathering on period poverty and sharing that with friends to raise awareness and ‘normalise the talk’.
The facts are staggering-23 per cent of girls drop out of school because of lack of access to period products and the stigma attached to periods.
Furthermore, around 70 per cent of all the reproductive health issues in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. With the condition already so dire, COVID definitely amplified it.
On ground work
The team at Santa Brigade does its due diligence and have distributed 49,000 sanitary pads so far, and they are not stopping. They talk about periods and raise awareness to make the period talk normal. Early this year, the NGO collaborated with Enactus volunteers from Gargi College to begin an awareness program about gender issues and period dignity.
The kids, with their tiny little steps, are steadily marching ahead. The question remains – Will you join the march or witness the parade go by? Visit https://santabrigade.in for more information