Read how this woman did her bit towards her school and hostel by donating menstrual hygiene products to the inmates with Team Infano.
I have a help, Mary who has been working at my home since the past 10 years. She is like family to me – has helped me maintain the well-being of my family, has helped me through my difficult times when my family members were sick, been a support when I had to leave my kids at home for outstation work assignments, has helped raise my kids with me.
We have grown up with each other… literally. She comes from a humble background, has a husband who has been addicted to alcohol for years now and three daughters. I have seen her work hard, literally willing to do anything to make things work for the family. I now see her daughters all grown up, taken up jobs and doing well in life. I feel a sense of pride when I talk about Mary and the independent daughters she has raised.
Today, I want to tell you the story of her youngest daughter, Soumya. When Soumya was young, things were really tough financially at home. Her elder siblings were studying well and it was getting increasingly difficult for Mary to make ends meet. She was at a stage when she felt that it would be even difficult to afford a school for Soumya. She heard about a girls’ hostel and school run by a few Christian nuns and approached them for Soumya’s schooling. They took her in. Soumya was just 6 years old then.
Once she joined school, Soumya was allowed to go home to her family only three times a year, and as a kid it was difficult to accept that. She had to adjust living with girls of different age groups and from varied socio-economic groups. It was tough for a six-year-old. Discipline was utmost important, helping in day-to-day chores of the hostel was a given, no reason was good enough to skip school, prayers or physical exercise. It all seemed unnecessary at that point, it all seemed way too strict. Soumya studied there till grade 10 and came out as a confident girl ready to take on life. The school brought a new perspective in Soumya’s life.
Soumya is now doing her graduation and has also taken up a part-time job. This Women’s Day, when she came to know about the “I Challenge to Change” campaign by Infano, she felt that she is ready to take up a challenge in life. She remembered her growing years in the hostel – the discomfort of periods every month, the lack of menstrual knowledge, the scarcity of menstrual hygiene products, missing someone to talk to – someone who could give her some explanations as to why, how, and when. Soumya wanted to do something for the menstrual hygiene of the students of the hostel.
Team Infano with Soumya, visited the hostel, spent time with the kids and the Sisters in-charge there. The hostel was well managed, even in these difficult COVID times. Though initially reserved, shy, and giggly, when we mentioned periods, the girls slowly opened up. The conversation touched upon several topics like menstrual cramps, the importance of hygiene, various period products, biodegradable organic products like the period products from PeeSafe (after all, the environment is our responsibility too!). It made the Infano team realize that there is still so much more that we need to spread the word about menstruation. We are really happy that youngsters like Soumya actually want to make a change in the lives of young girls. It’s a start for her – beginning with the place that helped her become what she is.
This rather simple real-life story has inspiring tales of strong women embedded in it – the story of Mary who struggled all her life but made sure she raised strong, capable daughters, the story of the Sisters at the hostel who have selflessly devoted their life to the upliftment of young girls and of young Soumya, who has a raring desire to do whatever she can to give a better life to the less privileged young girls.
We can draw inspiration from these women to do whatever we can in our capacity, big or small, to make a change because small changes put together can make a big difference in the future. Building a strong, independent women community is our hope and dream.