India

A New Perspective

It was just three miles away from my grandpa’s house in suburban Noida near Delhi, India. But it seemed to be a different world.

I was wading through the narrow and crowded alleys of the slum adjacent to the biggest market of the city. A young woman, who earns her living by ironing clothes under a roadside tent, guided me through the maze of small houses and shacks to the local school for underprivileged kids.

Health Education: from India to Canada

I grew up in Bangalore, India in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period of rapid growth and development in the country. As the “Silicon Valley of India”, Bangalore’s booming IT industry attracted foreign investment and brought about intense economic and social change. As a child, I was always told I was lucky to witness these changes. Our world was getting better and India was going to be a superpower soon! To my young mind, these were promising ideas but I could never imagine them into reality. If our world was getting better, why was the slum right in front of my school expanding every day?

Periods

When I was working with kids at a school in a Noida-based slum, I noticed that girls would miss school more often than boys. I wanted to know why, and casually I asked a group of girls. They just giggled and walked away. “What’s so funny?” I asked, but got no response. I tried checking with another group of girls, but got nothing more than giggles and embarrassed looks.

Breaking the silence, period!

When I was in Chattishgarh last year, I conducted a session with 40 young women, mostly married and asked them why we get periods. After a few minutes of silence and blank stares, one of them raised her hand and said “Well, that’s how it is, ma’am. This is something that happens every month to us. It’s natural”.