Chandrika standing in front of her house posing for the camera.

One year ago, Chandrika (17) met Purnima, one of the ants working on Bring the Change Project. Chandrika was already associated with the ant through Ultimate Disk sessions. Her coach Mahananda introduced her to Purnima who told her about the Bring the Change (BTC) project. After attending the sessions, she now understands the importance of educating other young girls on menstrual hygiene. She is very passionate about raising awareness on menstrual health and hygiene.

When Chandrika was introduced to this project, many young girls in her village including her were still using clothes during periods. In rural areas, the practice of using pieces of clothes to prevent menstrual blood from staining has been followed by many women and girls. But this method is not helpful enough to allow young girls to engage in physical activities outside their homes. “The arrival of Purnima mahi (aunt) in my life helped a lot. We learnt a lot about menstruation and menstrual hygiene. We have started using pads 7-8 months ago. Before using pads, we would often miss school on our periods because clothes could not hold period blood as long as pads could hold.” Although pads are not very environment friendly and may cause other health issues, the adoption of pads as solutions to inactivity during their periods brought some respite to the girls in Chandrika’s village. Chandrika is also a very passionate athlete who loves playing the Ultimate Disk and loves to run. Her eyes sparkle whenever she would describe her interest in sports. But earlier when they didn’t know about pads, Chandrika would find it a little difficult to engage in sports during her menstruation.

Chandrika’s participation and engagement in the sessions on menstrual health and hygiene have opened many opportunities for personal development. Chandrika now feels that she has developed more self-confidence and the confidence to speak about menstruation with anybody. When she was asked if she would be able to address on menstrual issues to the public, she instantly said, “Yes”. She is also very confident now to openly communicate about her menstrual problems to her male relatives and classmates. “Earlier I used to only inform my mother about my period cramps and ask for medicine, but now if I need pads and medicines for period pain, I can directly ask my father and elder brother.”

Chandrika is one of the examples of how the programme on all round development of adolescent girls under Bring the Change project is creating impact on young girls in rural areas of Chirang and Udalguri. “I have also seen that young girls from my village are also slowly gaining confidence and all the girls who attend the sessions have become like a peer group supporting each other during period crisis. We also motivate each other to take part in different extra-curricular activities.” Along with the sessions on menstruation, she also finds the sessions on career development helpful in deciding what she wants to do in future. She is currently studying in 10th standard and found her aim to work in the Indian army. She says that she will keep studying as long as she gets a job. She also hopes that one day, she will get the opportunity to talk on the issue of menstrual health and hygiene of rural girls and women in a large public meeting.