Like any teenager, Pratima’s impressions on GARIMA have been that it has taken up the ever important issue of menstrual hygiene management. She knew what it meant to deal with menstruation with half-baked knowledge and no prior preparation. That’s why she did not mind sparing time from her busy schedule of helping her mother in the kitchen, working with her father in the fields and studying in school to take up the responsibility of being a peer educator for the Adolescent Girls’ Group in her village, Pachwal (block Rampur, district Jaunpur). Her first and foremost thought was, “Thank God, someone has come to help adolescent girls with menstruation and related challenges!” Facing ridicule was a part of the process. Having broken the inhibitions of adolescent girls around menstruation, she felt a natural progression was to think of smoothening the village infrastructure. GARIMA’s learning had taught her that menstrual hygiene management was not holistic in the confines of home; it meant proper establishment of household and village sanitation infrastructure. Alongside, adolescent girls needed adequate nutrition and safe menstrual absorbents for a healthy life.
Having made note of these essential needs for adolescent girls, she presented her list to the Gram Pradhan of her village. Since he was not adequately disposed to these requirements, her request were not paid heed to. Luckily around the same time, Pratima got an opportunity to represent her village, along with other peer educators, at the districtlevel Menstruation Day Celebrations organized by GARIMA project. Since she was given the opportunity, she earnestly spoke to the District Magistrate about the condition in her village and the urgent need for construction of toilets, provision of quality mid-day meals and sanitary pads in schools. She also presented these demands at the state-level meeting organized by GARIMA, as she got a chance to attend the meeting and also articulate her concerns. Finally, Pratima received a call from the Chief Minister’s office and the Block Development Officer visited her village. She gave all her demands in writing and explained the lacunae in service delivery of mid-day meal scheme in her village. Immediate action was taken and the quality
“I know my actions have caused displeasure but I will keep working in the interest of the villagers. I will continue my efforts in the face of all opposition because what I am demanding for is in the interest of adolescents and needy villagers. " -Pratima
Pratima Maurya of mid-day meal improved, but the Gram Pradhan took offence to Pratima’s written complaint to the Chief Minister. The family faced repercussions as her relatives lost their jobs as mid-day meal cooks. Pratima’s mother too, who is an ASHA, had to face non-cooperation from the Gram Pradhan. Pratima has taken these consequences in her stride and continues with her efforts for the welfare of adolescents and needy people in the village. Setting an example for other adolescent girls in the village, Pratima dreams of becoming a police officer one day to combat corruption. Going by the path she had chosen, it does notseem like a distant dream!