May 4, 2017

Smiley Girls leading towards their well being

Smiley Girls with Confident Smiles
Smiley Girls with Confident Smiles

Thank you donors and well wishers for your generous support to this campaign, over the last quarter we were able to impact the lives of many underprivileged girls and women who live in the slums of Agra district, Uttar Pradesh (India). 

In our previous reports, we have mentioned that we have partnered with more than 10 schools for addressing the pressing issues related to the adolescent girls’ health, hygiene, and wellbeing. So far, approx. 800 school girls are registered with this campaign as our direct beneficiaries and if we talk about indirect beneficiaries in which we can include the mothers, sisters and friends of our registered girls than we have touched more than 1600 girls and women in few months.

With the starting of new financial year and our 2nd Phase out strategy, we are in process to explore our work in new communities of Agra district to impact the live of the girls and women through the campaign.   

What we achieved:-

During previous months, we have successfully conducted many activities to aware girls and women towards their healthy living and well being.

A short summary of our activities are given as below-

  • Awareness Workshop

We have been striving to conduct awareness workshops in our partner schools and targeted slums based in Agra (India). Many awareness generation workshops were conducted in last few months towards the physical changes and menstrual hygiene management associated with the girls’ wellbeing and quality education. The workshops were participatory in nature where the engagement of the girls marked the great impact to disseminate the information in an effective manner. During the interaction with the girls, we found that most of the girls use waste cloths to absorb their menstrual blood whether it is a cotton cloth or a synthetic one, just because they cannot afford sanitary napkins and some girls don’t give priority to their periods’ hygiene. Furthermore, in some cases, they had lack awareness on how to use sanitary pads. Whilst the majority of girls were initially hesitant to speak about their experiences, they opened up to the IDF team through the Quiz Card activity.  By allowing them to write their questions instead of asking out loud, we were able to get much more engagement and frankness in our discussion. So far, more than 10 workshops were organized in different partner schools and target communities.

 

  • Assignment of Smiley Girls- Roles and Responsibility:

According to our strategic approach, 10% girls from partner schools have been selected to constitute the Smiley Girls Club and they have been nominated as the Smiley Girls. Each Smiley Girl was representative of a group of 10 girls including Smiley Girl itself. Smiley Girls were assigned to bring the problems of their group members to their school facilitators (active teachers of the partner school) and they are responsible for monitoring health of their group members. Smiley Girls work as a bridge between us and the girls.  

   

  • Appointment of SAKHIs:

We have been in the process to appoint some of the active women from the target communities as “SAKHI”. SAKHIs work as the facilitators in slum areas where they bring the health related issues/ problems of women and girls of their community those can’t come to partner schools. They were selected on the basis of their knowledge about menstrual hygiene and sincerity & dedication towards their task completion. SAKHIs help us in conducting workshops in communities by gathering women and girls of their communities.

  

  • Health Camp

 A health camp was organized in month of February 2017 at B. L. Verma Memorial School where 115 girls from B. L. Verma Memorial School and S. S. M. Inter College were participated in more enthusiastic way. Girls’ health check up was done by Dr. Rekha Gupta, one of our expert panelists under the campaign. During the Health camp, the gynecologist addressed the girls issues related with their menstrual health and she examined some girls who were suffering from the severe problems associated with their menstrual & physical health. Girls asked many queries related with their health issues, in the other hand, those girls who were not able to discuss their problems loud - wrote their problems on Quiz Card during the session and gynecologist answered them. Our gynecologist suggested medicines to girl who were facing major problems. Not only had this gynecologist also suggested healthy habits to be adopt during menstruation.

 

  • Construction of toilets in schools

Under the project, we also stresses the importance of school toilets which are built to accommodate menstruating girls specific needs for privacy, space, washing facilities and correct disposal or cleaning of menstrual pads. However, separate toilets will give facilities and privacy to girls at the schools to change their sanitary pads/materials easily and hygienic way.

At the time awareness workshops and surveys, we found that most of the girls do not attend school during menstruation because the inaccessibility of separate toilets in their schools or if some schools have toilets but they are not in functioning. In a way to provide privacy and respect to girls during their menstruation, we have constructed 8 new toilets in 3 different schools- B. L. Verma Memorial School, S.S.M. Inter College and Primary School of Nagla Mahadev. In a way to promote WASH practices in schools we also installed wash basins in schools to make healthy habits of hand washing with soap.

Way Forward

  • Spreading the wings in new community:

As we are heading to the financial year & our 2nd phase out strategy, we have been in a process to broaden our areas of working in new slums/ communities. We have been establishing partnership with schools at Devri Road and emphasis to reach more than 5000 girls by the end of this year. Devri Road is one of the slums in Agra and the majority of population is associated with shoe making. The sanitation conditions of the surrounding areas are negligible. 

 

  • Smiley Kits are ready to distribute

In coming months, the Smiley kits will be distributing to the girls who are registered under the campaign. The kit contains all required hygiene items which are important during periods like sanitary pads (eco friendly), vaginal wash, panty, soap & information booklet.  

 

  • In coming quarter, we will establish partnership with other schools and planning to impact more girls through this campaign.

 

Success Story 

Rajkumari, aged 15, started with her cycle in 2015.That time she had soiled her clothes and she was completely unaware of the concept and hence was taken aback. Fortunately, she has an elder sister who has helped her a lot since then.

Lack of proper knowledge about menstruation is the main reason why it is maligned with so many taboos. According to Rajkumari’s friends, a woman menstruates because of drinking tea. All such idiotic explanations do more harm than good. Lack of proper support and help from the elders through these times cause a lot of easily avoidable stress. This ‘knowledge’ has been given to them by their uneducated elders. Though she does not usually miss school during menstruation, Rajkumari feels a lot of discomfort, since there is no proper washroom with water facility in her school.

To counter the above myths and misplaced perceptions, IDF conducted an awareness workshop in her school, starting with explaining the girls what exactly is menstruation. This was followed by information about menstrual hygiene, covering changes that happen and explaining to them the absence of logic in the taboos around menstruation. Construction of separate washrooms for girls with running water supply is also something which the IDF is continuously working hard to achieve.

You can also contribute to this cause by donating through Global Giving platform or by spreading the message to your friends & relatives.

Thank you!

Knowledge sharing session with Doctor
Knowledge sharing session with Doctor
New Toilets Under Smiley Days Campaign
New Toilets Under Smiley Days Campaign
WASH Workshop
WASH Workshop
Smiley Girls with their mentors
Smiley Girls with their mentors
Feb 20, 2017

Smiley Days Campaign | Ongoing Activities

Girls are cheering with new toilets facilities!
Girls are cheering with new toilets facilities!

 

Girls’ right to education is being violated through inadequate menstrual hygiene education, insufficient water and sanitation facilities and poor access to sanitary menstrual materials. Menstrual hygiene facilities and services keep girls on school where they can reach their full potential.

 

So far, we have registered approximately 800 girls and their mothers on the Smiley Days Programme. This number creates a significant member base for our campaign and we hope to build on this in the coming months to attain our target of reaching out to 5000 girls and women in the local community.Since most of the beneficiaries are enrolled in schools, we direct our efforts towards partnering with these institutions on a wide range of events:

Awareness workshop

Awareness workshops were organized at Upper Primary School of Sattoli, Etmadpur Block Agra. School girls have participated and discussed their issues related to menstrual hygiene and health. The majority of girls in rural communities use waste cloths to absorb menstrual blood because they cannot afford the cost of sanitary napkins. Furthermore, in some cases, they lack awareness on how to use them.Whilst the majority of girls were initially hesitant to speak about their experiences, they opened up to the IDF team through the Quiz Card activity.  By allowing them to write their questions instead of asking out loud, we were able to get much more engagement and frankness in our discussion.

Establishment of Smiley Girls Club:We have established Smiley Girls Clubs in all partner schools.

The clubs will help to disseminate campaign information among the other girls of the school and it will also help to gather and share experiences with their peer groups in a safe environment. 10% girls from partner schools have been selected to constitute the Smiley Girls Club and they have been nominated as the Smiley Girls. They have been selected on the basis of their regularity in the school, dedication towards the campaign, leadership skills that can motivate or inspire other girls, and knowledge about menstrual hygiene.

Informal activities: We have also organized a painting activity in all partner schools, where girls were asked to draw around the theme of ‘Healthy and happy girl’. Through this fun-filled and relaxed activity, we hope to motivate girls to address their ideas on menstruation through the medium of art.

School Facilitators: In addition to directly interacting with the students ourselves, we also believe that teachers are very important to provide the required psycho-social support for their pupils. Therefore we hope to train teachers (at least 2 female teachers) to provide this support to adolescent girls and organize regular hygiene motivation sessions, which will supplement the activities we directly undertake.

We have selected school facilitators in each partner school and have explained their roles and responsibilities under the campaign. The school facilitators have been selected on the basis of their dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm. Under the campaign, we have also interviewed with teachers of the partner schools to understand their opinions and knowledge on this issue.

More than half of the school teachers said that they do not have sufficient knowledge on menstruation hygiene management (MHM) practices and some had basic idea about menstrual health & hygiene. According to the information gathered from teachers, taboos, cultural believes and silence on this issue is the main source of unawareness and lack of knowledge. That is why most of the schools do not integrate MHM issue within their curricular activities and the situation is most obvious in co-education schools where girls and boys both study together.

 

Renovation of toilets in schools

This time has been more crucial for IDF to spot the locations for construction of new toilets and renovation for the old toilets in the schools for the girls. Under the WASH practices, we also stresses the importance of school toilets which are built to accommodate menstruating girls’ specific needs for privacy, space, washing facilities and correct disposal of menstrual pads and installation of wash basin for healthy hand wash practices.We have chosen/spotted those schools which do not have functioning toilets.Under the project, we also stresses the importance of school toilets which are built to accommodate menstruating girls specific needs for privacy, space, washing facilities and correct disposal or cleaning of menstrual pads.

However, separate toilets will give facilities and privacy to girls at the schools to change their sanitary pads/materials easily and hygienic way.

During the personal interviews with adolescent girls, some of the girls have expressed their problems regarding their irregularity in schools during their periods.

Other relevant activities

Health kit distribution: In addition to generating awareness about good menstrual health practices, we also believe that we must provide girls with the required utilities such as sanitary napkins. We are currently in the process of finalizing the purchase of these kits, which will be then distributed to the adolescent girls registered on the Smiley Days campaign. We will also be organizing the 1st health camp under this campaign in January 2017.

Community initiatives: We also recognize that for a campaign to be truly successful, one needs to consider the local environment in addition to the beneficiaries. We are therefore in the process of mapping 5-6 local communities to improve sanitation facilities; we are currently working on toilet and wash basin construction in three schools and three households. We hope to create a long-term solution to hygiene issues in our target areas through such construction.

IDF has already organized various activities and is working towards meeting the objectives of our Smiley Days campaign. In the forthcoming year, we hope to build on our existing model and ensure that we reach all our metrics across education, provision of supplies and engagement with stakeholders and communities.

Dec 1, 2016

Introductory Smiley Days Workshops

Girls after attending workshop!
Girls after attending workshop!

Purpose:

This report contains the review of the campaign ‘Smiley Days’ after phase one of the campaign, during whichIDF has implemented many activities with a view to achieve the primary goals of the campaign.

Introduction:

Hygiene is a fundamental requirement for every healthy human being. While many of us take it for granted, there are a considerable amount of people who do not have access to adequate sanitary facilities. Young girls and women living in slums of Agra (UP), Indiabelong to the latter group. Slums have a number of hygiene issues such as lack of access to clean drinking water and toilets, but women face additional problems due to menstruation.Unhygienic practices during menstruation have a life long impact on these girls. This stems mainly from the prevalent cultural taboos on the topic, which leads to it being considered a subject of silence. Even in a family, there is little conversation on menstruation between a mother and a daughter.

The Smiley Days campaign aims to spread awareness around this taboo topic in the slums of Agra. Its main goal is to address female health and hygiene issues by promoting menstrual hygiene practices among adolescent girls and women in slums, rural and backward communities. The campaign will seek to bridge the gap between assumptions and information on menstruation by imparting knowledge toadolescent girls and providing them with an access to clean toilets. This campaign aims at empowering 4000 adolescent girls directly and impact 10000 adolescent girls and women to take control of their lives through menstrual hygiene management and sanitary practices.

What have we done so far?

In the first phase of the campaign, IDF has implemented a number of initiatives, which are as follows:

  • School Partnerships:School is the place where behavior can be shaped, skills can be developed and correct information can be provided. That is why IDF team decided to partner with various local schools to have a widespread impact of the campaign. So far we have established partnerships with eight schools in Agra.
  • Smiley Days Introductory Workshop: IDF has organized more than five Introductory Workshops with School Partners. The Introductory Workshops were specially designed to introduce school going girls to the Smiley Days campaign and the issues related to menstrual health management. The Workshop washighly interactivein nature. Various stakeholders including girls, teachers and IDF staff engaged in conversations with each other and exchanged their views on menstruation.

During the workshops, we also discussed what girls already knew about menstruation and asked them to share their experiences around the pain, flow and fatigue they experienced during their periods. While the girls were initially hesitant to speak about their experiences, they opened up to the IDF team after some time. The Quiz Card activity was particularly helpful to elicit questions as it allowed them to write any questions they might have about menstruation. This encouraged them to be curious and ask those questions, which they might have been shy to ask otherwise.

  • School Facilitators:School is the place where behavior can be shaped, skills can be developed and correct information can be provided. To achieve this, it is important to train teachers (at least 2 female teachers) to provide psycho-social support to adolescent girls and provide regular hygiene motivation sessions. IDF hopes to achieve this under the Smiley Days campaign. The responsibility for organizing the workshops will lay with the school facilitators(focal teachers).

We have selected school facilitators in each partner school and have explained their roles and responsibilities under the campaign to them. The school facilitators have been selected on the basis of their dedication, punctuality, andenthusiasm.

  • Establishment of Smiley Girls club: We have established Smiley Girls Clubs in all partner schools. The clubs will help to circulate campaign information among the other girls of the school and it will also help to gather and share experiences with their peer groups in a safe environment.

10% girls from partner schools have been selected to constitute the Smiley Girls Club and they have been nominated as the Smiley Girls. They are selected on the basis of their regularity in the school, dedication towards the campaign, leadership skills that can motivate or inspire other girls, and knowledge about menstrual hygiene.

We will continue to organize these workshops in the coming months and assessing the impact of these workshops.

Below are a few snippets from the participants of the Introductory Workshop:

# Swati, 14 years old said “I don’t come to school during my periods. I become absent for all five days. I feel shy and uncomfortable to come to school”.

# Priyanka, 13 years said “I refuse to come to school during my periods because I feel discomfort when using pads. Usually I use cloth to absorb period blood but I am afraid if my school uniform could get stained if the absorbing material is not placed properly”. 

# Poonam, 13 years asked “I experience white fluid discharge when I don’t have my periods. What is it and why does it happen? ”

A common question that was asked by a lot of girls was, “Do we stop growing after periods?”

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