Module 2 Assignment Draft

Nilima Raut
Posted January 15, 2011 from Nepal

Dear Rachel, Scott, Cristi and my vof friends,

It was really hard this time to understand how exactly it should be.As i am posting this draft to you after a research and some perspectives of others, i want your suggestions and comments and please tell me if i made it a real frontline. I desperately wait for your feedback!

A BIG THANX TO MY MENTOR TAMI AND CRISTI FOR HELPING ME TO CHOOSE MY STORY ANGLE AND HOW WE CAN GIVE A VOICE TO THE ISSUES THAT HAVE NOT BEEN DISCUSSED BEFORE BUT HAD BEEN THERE FROM SO LONG AFFECTING OUR LIFE!

EMIE, THANK YOU FOR YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION AND MAKING ME UNDERSTAND THIS SO EASILY.

here it comes..............

Going school was tough at that time due to cold. It used to be snow in the winter season and even in summer there were hardly the very hot temperature to leave jacket at home and go out. I was born in Dolakha- a mountain area and I had my first crush on the Mt. Gaurishankar in one fine morning when the sunshine had kissed the mountain and it glowed like heaven as I have heard in the stories. Named after the Gauri-goddess and Shankar-god in Hindu religion, climbing mountain is prohibited because of the religious belief and respect. But I have always imagined, going close to the mountain to hug it every time I see the heavenly view.

Imaginations, dreams and assumptions were the part of life when I was growing up. In other part the changes that were happening in my body while growing up were the weird experience for me. It was shameful to ask parents about physical changes and even mom never told me what exactly happens in our body while we grow up. Our culture, custom didn’t allow us to talk freely about our physical changes or reproductive or sexual health, even now.

Due to cold my cheeks were kind of redder than usual that day; I was 12 at that time, I was feeling some strange pain on my belly and I could feel my underwear was smelly. I still remember that day I was wearing yellow underwear and Later at home, I observed the red color on that. At first I thought it’s a stain I may have got while playing as it was too dark red. Then the questions begin to strike on my mind- maybe I got stomach cancer, maybe I got some wound on my intestine, maybe it cause death....and I was trembling with fear seeing strange thing in my life. I couldn’t be sure that it was menstruation because our woman elders used to say- ‘nachhhunu bhayapachhi nidharma tika lagchha’ means ‘we get mark on our forehead when we have our first menstruation’. I didn’t see any mark on my forehead. I don’t even understand now why they said like that. I was too afraid to tell my mom so I wore three stockings (trousers) and went to school. Whole day I was nervous thinking of the heavy bleeding. I didn’t know anything about menstruation except my mom not touching anything for 5 days in a month.

The nepali word for menstruation is ‘nachhunu’ which means ‘untouchable’, it means while we have menstruation we are considered as untouchable or impure for 5 days and everything we touch becomes impure. When we have first menstruation, for 22 days, we are not allowed to touch any male, we are not allowed to enter into the kitchen, prayers room, we are not allowed to see top of our house; we have to use separate utensils. Touching father or brothers is a big taboo. Even seeing the mirror during menstruation is considered as it brings the bad luck they say. The superstitious belief says- menstruation is the punishment of the sin that we did in our previous life.

So when our housemaid noticed the blood on my dress after coming from school, she immediately told my mom. They packed some of my dresses and told my dad to go out of house so that I couldn’t see him. I went with our house maid to her home which was almost 1.5 hours far. There I was given a dark room with no sunlight and given one plate and glass to use for eating. People there used to say- ‘timi aba thuli bhayau’ that means now I am grown up. Ohh…grown up means I had to be careful from then, not to play with male friends, not to stay out for long, not to go out often and all. I used to cry while I was alone for being grown up with the one simple natural thing in my body. I hated that blood which made this sudden change.

I had to use rags as at that time I even didn’t know that there are things like sanitary pads. Using rags was unhygienic and I was even unaware of washing it carefully. Days were so hard and even more than that all the restrictions were even worst. I was even not sent to school during those days and thinking of questions that my friends and teachers might ask after re-attending used to scare me almost. I had experienced that many of my friends in school, after they had menstruation, got married as menstruation symbolizes ‘grown up’ in our culture. And many of them missed school during their menstruation which had affected their study.

I was supposed to stay there for 12 days but luckily my mom allowed me to enter on 7th day. That day I was given new cloths and new things. I entered home after they sprinkled gold water (they put gold in water, for it is taken as to pure something). I was told that I shouldn’t touch my dad for 22 days and shouldn’t enter into the kitchen, prayers room. I was my daddy’s gal so I couldn’t stay without talking to my dad, I ran to my dad and hugged him and I cried a lot. That day I was feeling worse for being grown up which didn’t allow me to be close with my father. People stared at me and scolded me and told it was a sin which depressed me for long after that.

District Report- According to the Monthly Monitoring and Annual Performance Review Worksheet (2008/9/10), in Dolakha, estimated target population for health service user were 224,982 and the service users were 235,674, including migrated people. Female health service takers are increasing by 2/4% per day which can be considered as the awareness or more health problems. Out of which, In the year 2009/10 there was average 96 cases of menstruation disorder (in married and unmarried) per month in District primary health center-Dolakha.

Awareness- There is little promotional health service through advertisement in TV, Radio, and Newspapers which only includes some major diseases but it doesn’t include any of the awareness on menstruation hygiene. Hygienic practices during menstruation are of considerable importance as it has health impacts in terms of increased exposure to various infections. Due to lack of awareness, hygiene is neglected by girls, especially in the rural areas. The renowned INGO like Water Aid is one of the major organizations working for awareness of sanitation including menstruation hygiene. In a study According to a 2009 survey by Water Aid, an international NGO, the key reasons girls were absent while menstruating was a lack of privacy, unavailability of sanitary disposal facilities and water shortages. They are also seen to avoid going to toilets during menstruation as most schools do not have separate latrines for girls and most of them have missed school during menstruation. According to Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES), only 41% of schools in Nepal have latrine facility with only 26% of schools having separate latrine for girls. To avoid humiliation - especially teasing by school boys - the girls would rather go home. This is one of the reasons why they lose interest in going to school and they result poor performance in school. One of the studies has also that they are likely to get depressed during their first menstruation.

Our Education- The primary health education is included from the class 1 to the class 10 in the new study course. There is a subject called ‘science, environment and health’ under 5 class and above that there is subject called ‘population, health and environment’ which is not enough for the complete knowledge on basic reproductive health. Though there are some chapters about the reproductive health, due to the new course and untrained teachers it has been ineffective. The girls are too shy to ask about this and teachers themselves do not teach about it clearly due to our cultural limits. And gender barriers still exists in some of the schools in rural part.

According to Govinda Raj Sedhai, secretary of District Education Office, Dolakha, education ministry is bringing the new literacy program to the adult - the adult/elders literacy classes which will include the 3 days of health education too which may help woman to know about their menstruation and reproductive health too.

National Health Policy- the NHP was adopted in 1991 to bring about improvements in health conditions of the people of Nepal through extending the access and availability of primary health care system. The primary objective of NHP is to extend the primary health care system to the rural population so that they benefit from modern facilities and the services from trained health care providers. Under the government there are 3 kinds of health services- preventive, promotional and curative health services.

Global Perspective In total, women spend around six to seven years of their lives menstruating. A key priority for women and girls is to have the necessary knowledge, facilities and cultural environment to manage menstruation hygienically, and with dignity. Yet the importance of menstrual hygiene management is mostly neglected by development practitioners within the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and other related sectors such as reproductive health.

In many countries like Nepal, women are considered to be “impure” during their menstrual cycle and are prohibited to take part in social life and they are treated as ‘untouchable’ during menstrual cycle. But the truth is as we all know; menstruation is a natural phenomenon that should be celebrated as a feminine force. We talk about girl’s education and their rights to education. And when we talk about girls' education, we cannot only focus on scholarships or building toilets. We need an incorporated approach that involves gender sensitivity among teachers and the need to educate the mothers also on the issue of menstrual impact on girls

My voice: There are many cultures in Nepal, some of them treat the menstruation in a good way and some of them even treat it as if it is a big curse. The majority of girls learn about menstruation from their mothers, sisters and girl friends but what happens when they are themselves unknown about the menstruation hygiene? And what happens though they have knowledge, they lack some facilities to them for their hygiene? As a result some of them suffer from depression and some get different infections. Many girls prefer to stay home which leads to their poor performance in school.

Being in rotaract is the proud thing that I have in my life but it became so much part of my life as well as many other girls when we got the girls toilet project through our Rotary club of Charumati which is funded by Rotary Club of Matilda Bay- Australia. We have completed the project by now and I am working voluntarily in that school to raise awareness on menstruation hygiene as well as other basic teenage problems. As I have just stepped on the first stage of my mission, I am still learning, I am still seeking the new ways and ideas to include both gender. And I am happy that they don’t have to suffer in the same situation as I had to during my menstruation.

It depends upon the culture how do they practices the menstrual hygiene but it is very important part of health education like other major health problems. It’s only possible to increase menstruation hygiene when not only health officers but teachers and parents play the important role in transmitting a message of proper menstrual hygiene. This wouldn’t only save girls from many health hazards but would break the barrier to their regular study. And we woman can play the most significant role through communicating with each other in creating menstrual hygiene in our family and in our community.

Comments 26

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Sarvina Kang
Jan 15, 2011
Jan 15, 2011

Well-done Nilima! I have no any suggestions with your piece since I have read it and I have found that your article is clear enough. You show us that you are a strongest daughter and I am also proud to have known you and become your friend. You have made me move since I started knowing you at first day through worldpulse until we became closer and closer. Through this frontline journal I have known some more stroy when you were a child.

Love, Sarvina

Nilima Raut
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

yes sarvina, thanx to world pulse . Really i feel there is a strong bonding in our friendship. Thank you for being here in y post! :)

Sarvina Kang
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

I am happy:)

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

:):)

Emilia Zozobrado
Jan 15, 2011
Jan 15, 2011

My pleasure, of course, to be of a little help, Nilima! We are here for each other, right? And you are writing about something all of us sisters can relate with - menstruation! If not for menstruation, there's no procreation ... no humanity could ever exist! Or, at least, that's how this life is created to be! You really did an enormous job on this piece, sister! All the best...

Always, Emie Zozobrado

Nilima Raut
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

hi emie,

than you once again for being here to help me and motivate me. I am really thankful to you emie for helping me in my first assignment and 2nd assignment. you always have solutions with you that surprises me with positivity.

with love

nilima

Emilia Zozobrado
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

Nilima, we are here for each other! You have been a great inspiration to me even before we were chosen as VOF 2010 correspondents, right? Our exchanges at Facebook and Pulsewire really meant so much to me - it has kept me going, and now we're here! Go go girl .... we know we can make it because we have each other!

Always, Emie Zozobrado

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

yes you are very much right and i feel lucky for that emie, surrounded by friends all around the world that is what also keeps me going on!!

Sapna Shahani
Jan 15, 2011
Jan 15, 2011

This is an important perspective. I didn't grow up Hindu in India so I didn't know the restrictions were so severe. One of my video trainees made this video on the same issue but across different religions: http://www.waveindia.org/videopl.php?vid=130

A little feedback on the structure of your piece: the first line seems to lead the reader in a different direction, ie the cold and mountain climbing. Also, I felt the personal perspective works well but not the bullet points below. See if you can keep the personal tone even when you are talking about statistics too maybe.

All the best, Sapna.

Nilima Raut
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

hi sapna,

thanx so much. The first line i wrote to relate the nature i was born in and my upbringing. Rest i am little confused what you mean. Do you means the later part dont give what there should be? please help as i did it with the great difficulty. After the research only i could present the full data.

thank you so much , your comments is highly valuable!

Sapna Shahani
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

Hi Nilima, What I meant was that maybe you could take out the headings such as My voice, etc and keep your voice consistent throughout the piece. Hope that helps :) Sapna.

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

ok i got it, thank you so much:))) that is also nice, thank you so much once again sapana:)

Farha
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

Nilima what a wonderful piece ! I can only imagine how you came to understand and experience menstruation. I had a totally different experience, I may say in a very privileged way than many girls around the globe !

I commend you for taking up such a sensitive yet an essential issue that warrants attention!

I don’t have any particular suggestion, I am sure If you re-read your piece, you’ll feel what to revise ;- )

Nilima Raut
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

thank you farona that is the sweet messahe:) heheh......thank you so much and i will re revise it:):):)

thank you so much for being here :)

thanx a ton:)

Farha
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

My pleasure sis ;- ) your piece was enlightening read for me ! ;- ) Oh yes, Read ! Aloud! and give yourself a treat ! you have done a wonderful job in this piece ;- )

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

i feel great:D

Rudzanimbilu
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

Oh My God, I can't believe you took me from your birthplace, to your childhood and teenage years like I was sitting in your dining room sipping tea while listening to you as you narrate. What is even more interesting is that fact that I could recall some of the moments when I first had my periods and it really pained me to read about your ordeal and that of women in your country. Things will change even though it takes time for change is inevitable. Thank you for sharing your story in a carefully crafted manner, it could have been a massive challenge for most of us but you did a great job. Well done Nilima

Nilima Raut
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

hi Muthambi,

thank you so much and i am so happy that it made you to think about your childhood and it made you to experience my life through my writings. This is what i expect from my writing that it should make someone relate the issue in their life too.

thank you so much with the big hug:)

Vivian Emesowum
Jan 16, 2011
Jan 16, 2011

Compliment of the season Nilima,

I read you post with mixed feelings. I know that there use to be cultural barrier about menstruation but not to this extent of not having the opportunity to see or touch your father. Your story remain me of one of the myths I heard when I started my menstruation. That of being unclean and must not enter the church. I would always refuse to go to church when menstruating and will never tell anyone my reason for refusing to go to church. If I was manadated to go, I will not receive communion. Until one day, it was discussed in the church and it explained that there is nothing like that. But, when I tried to recall how that believe came about. I couldn't trace it root, it was only a rumor among some christians.

Cultural barrier of menstruation do not seems to exist in Nigeria alone especially in today Nigeria when Christianity has taken over everything. The myths you may hear are from young people saying that sex helps to reduce menstral pain. This is why one of the topics I teach under reproductive health is how menstruation occurs and the myths and facts of menstruation. Also, how to keep clean during menstruation.

Thank you for writing this topic and sharing your personal experience. You have presented it well and I think you did not leave out any thing. But I would like to ask if these things still exist till now or was it in the past that it happened.

It is not so easy writing a frontline story, so you did well.

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

hi vivian, well that is so great to know about you.

for your question, it still exists in the rural area and even in urban area but it is not that much conservative as it used to be. girls still miss school because they do not have privacy in school or simply they believe it is not good culturally or religiously. I had asked some girls next to my house before writing this piece. It has changed a bit. But there are still things to be improved. Thats why i am also working for the same cause.

Thank you for reading it thoroughly. It makes me to look back to my piece once again, thanx a million.

with love

nilima

warona
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

Dear gal,

How are you Nilima,hope you are kicking wel over there.Am also doing well dear.To comment on this piece, hey all i can say is that : menses across the globe , people have their own perceptions about it. In Botswana when a young gal starts that by then it used to be a celebration, but now after these girls would encounter some attacks and diseases the people who were doing the circumcision were blamed for all the damage.As for you, you were kept in a house for some time but here a girl is also kept in house for as long as the menses are still seen.But then before in the olden days a girl would stay in a kraal for some days also.

I remember my untie was so ready,so prepared to do the circumcision on me, that day i did everything to myself,i told them later.They were so furious, telling me that am brave for nothing.I was taught at school about menstrution and we had dicussed at length about it.As long as there was no pain i had to take care of myself.

Well these are all traditional believes, i dont believe i must go through those things.However, i want to tell you dear love that your voice is so powerful,readerble,so tangible and i sighed after reading it.Congratulations on completing your assignment gal.

Wish you all the best

Warona

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

hi warona,

well after a long time its just a remembrance but it taught me a lesson that i didnt allowed people to do the same to my sisters. As i read about all of your stories too, i feel there are different cultures and norms but one shouldnt make it difficult to live life and make it tougher experience than it should have been.

People are still rigid but changes are happening because we are speaking loud and all out.we have to! RAISE VOICE

with all smiles and courage:)

nilima

Marian Hassan
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

Dear Nilima,

Well done sis! this is a well organized piece of writing and thanks for sharing your own experience you really took me back to my childhood though i had a different experience.

Congratulations for a well done work.

Peace and love, RA

Nilima Raut
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 17, 2011

thank you so much sister:) well i feel relief as hear all of your comments:)

NI AYE
Jan 19, 2011
Jan 19, 2011

Hi sister

Your article is really interesting and you are impressive . Our culture is quite similar with yours and I felt the same on my first day. I was too shy to talk about it that I didn't know how to hide it from seen by others which made me shy more.Talk to you later.

Love

NI NI

Nilima Raut
Jan 19, 2011
Jan 19, 2011

hi ni ni,

yes many of us have similar culture! and it need attention. so gave it a voice!

thank you so much