Baijanti conducting MHM session in the slums of Delhi

From Neglect to Awareness: The Shift in Menstrual Hygiene Practices in Delhi Slums

Pinkishe Foundation


Behind the Slum Walls: A Hidden Reality

Deep within Trilokpuri, Delhi's labyrinthine slum, a secret is guarded behind crumbling walls. Sakina, a 15-year-old whose laughter once echoed through the narrow alleys, now moves in silence. A few months ago, her first period painted her life with the dull tones of shame. Her mother, with tears in her eyes, handed her a frayed cloth – a haunting heirloom passed down through generations. Sakina's world, once full of the promise of school and friends, has shrunk to the size of a tattered rag.

The Unseen Epidemic: A Slum in Crisis

Behind the crumbling facades of Trilokpuri, a hidden epidemic raged, fueled by shame and ignorance. Women, forced to share filthy rags, were condemned to a life of constant itching and festering infections. Their bodies were battlegrounds, their dignity non-existent. But in the darkest depths of this crisis, a glimmer of hope emerged. Baijanti, she dared to confront the horror head-on. 

A New Cycle of Empowerment

Baijanti, with compassion in her heart, stepped forward to shatter the silence. She started conducting MHHM workshops, and pad distribution drives. With every pad distributed, she chipped away at the walls of silence, bringing light to a community drowning in darkness.

She brought light to the hidden dangers of poor menstrual hygiene, echoing the urgency as the educators shared stories of the infections, the pain, the lives forever altered by neglect. With each word, they painted a vivid picture of a different path, one where women and girls could thrive, not suffer, during their periods.

With cloth pads in hand, Baijainti conducted a workshop that would become a turning point. Her hands demonstrated the proper way to use the pads, her eyes locking onto the faces before her, ensuring they understood. She spoke of clean water, of drying in the sun, of a practice that honored their bodies, not put them in harm's way. The room buzzed with questions, with whispers of "why did we not know this?" and "how will this change everything?"

Sakina, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, sat with wide eyes, drinking in the knowledge her mother never had the chance to give her. As a reusable pad was placed in her hands, a mix of emotions washed over her - hope for a different future, anger at the years of needless struggle, resolve to be the change for her own daughters someday.

This was not just an intervention, but a revolution of self-love and empowerment. Baijainti's words were seeds, planted in the fertile ground of these women's and girls' desire for change. As they looked at the pads, they saw a symbol of a promise - of days without constant fear of leakage, of nights uninterrupted by cramps, of a life where their bodies were not a source of shame, but of strength. In this moment, a new cycle began, one where knowledge and resources passed from generation to generation, where the well-being of women and girls was prioritized, where they could simply live, without the specter of poor menstrual hygiene looming over them. Baijainti had set change in motion, and nothing would ever be the same again.

The Impact: How The Workshops are Changing the Face of Menstrual Health

During Baijanti's regular rounds through the cramped alleys of Trilokrpuri, she braced herself for another day of stark realities amidst the slum's struggles. But as she turned a familiar corner, a spark of light flickered in the shadows. The weary faces of the women, usually etched with worry, now glowed with smiles. And in their eyes, a warmth that felt almost like coming home.

The girls from her last visit, once bashful and withdrawn, now sprinted towards her. Their laughter echoed off the makeshift shelters as they tugged at Baijanti's hands, pulling her into their circle. "Sit, sit!" they chimed, their voices bubbling with barely contained excitement. Baijanti's confusion melted into wonder as she realized – these girls, these women, they were celebrating her.

One girl, barely a teenager, blurted out their secret. "We've stopped sharing rags! We're using the pads you showed us!" The others nodded vigorously, their smiles mirrored on each face. An older woman, grey streaking her hair, grasped Baijanti's arm. "My itching, it's gone," she said."

In that instant, the weight of Baijanti's mission crystallized. This wasn't just about distributing supplies or reciting facts about hygiene. It was about transforming lives, one piece of fabric at a time. It was about stealing back a shred of dignity from the clutches of poverty and ignorance. As she hugged those girls, as she looked into those shining eyes, Baijanti knew why she did this work.

The long hours, the endless struggles, they all melted away. Because at that moment, Baijanti wasn't just a health worker – she was a catalyst for change. A reminder that even in the darkest corners, a little light can go a long way. And as she walked away from Jahangirpuri that day, Baijanti's step was lighter, her heart fuller. She knew she'd be back, again and again, as long as those women and girls needed her. Because they'd given her something far greater than she could ever give them – a sense of purpose, a reason to keep shining her light.

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