Saranya Das Sharma and Aamiya Vishwanathan of Shri Ram School in Moulsari here have come up with 'Project Sashakt' to educate underprivileged girls in schools across Delhi-NCR
Irked by the shooting numbers of girl dropouts in government schools due to lack of menstrual hygiene, two class 11 students have taken upon themselves to educate underprivileged girls about the issue.
Saranya Das Sharma and Aamiya Vishwanathan of Shri Ram School in Moulsari here have come up with 'Project Sashakt' to educate underprivileged girls in schools across Delhi-NCR as well as provide them with biodegradable sanitary napkins to combat the burgeoning problem of menstrual waste.
"I read that girls actually have to leave school because their schools don't have facilities and they themselves can't afford basic products like pads," Saranya told PTI.
Having started the project only in September last year, Saranya and Aamiya have already collaborated with several NGOs to distribute year-long supply of pads to girls in two schools here - Earth Saviour's Gurukul and Nirmal Sewa School.
On their visits to the schools, they realised while awareness drives for sanitation were catching momentum across the country, the topic of menstrual hygiene continued to be swept under the rug.
"Most girls know woefully little about their own bodies and its functions," says Saranya.
To address this aspect of the problem, they conduct workshops on menstrual hygiene, before handing over the sanitary napkins.
"We start with teaching these girls how they can use and dispose sanitary napkins. Then we talk to them about basic hygienic practices like bathing and washing hands," says Aamiya.
They also interact with the girls extensively to get familiar with the quintessential taboos associated with the issue.
"We also address taboo subjects and explain why they should not be ignored and teach them about the infections that can occur and how they can treat them," says Saranya.
Narrating a "ridiculous" story they were told, she says, "One of the girls said her mother had asked her not to enter the temple while she was on her period because that would be bad for her brother!"
To ensure that medical facilities are easily accessible to the underprivileged girls, Amiya and Saranya also coordinate with the schools to locate the nearest doctors and provide the girls with a list of the same.
"Once the initial workshop is done, we personally deliver the first set of pads to the girls. Then, we either send out boxes on a monthly basis or leave the right amount behind for the schools to distribute later," says Aamiya.
While they have already made their first few deliveries to nearly 200 girls across the city, they hope to increase their reach to 1,000 girls and 20 schools by the end of the year.
"We hope to reach out to as many girls as we can. We have also decided to visit the schools where the supplies have been made to monitor the progress," says Saranya.