Breaking the Silence 2018 Manipur Campaign Updates:
The campaign aims to raise awareness on the biology of menstruation among girls and women, boys and men and the community so a deeper understanding of our bodies and its natural phenomenon can end the myths, taboos and stigma revolving around menstruation in our society in India and other countries. From 9th May to 31st May 2018, the effort has been to conduct sensitization programs in the hill districts of Noney,Tamenglong and Ukhrul in northeastern state of India, Manipur which has experienced decades of armed conflict, corruption, unemployment, poor health facilities and infrastructure, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and high mortality from these factors. I share the updates from the field as we go on.
13 May 2018 Tamenglong district, Manipur(India)
Breaking the Silence, a campaign to end myths, taboos and stigma around menstruation and build a supportive home, school, workplace and community reached Tamenglong yesterday from Noney which was the first stop. The team met the Deputy Commissioner, Shri Armstrong Pamei, IAS and Chief Medical Officer, Dr.Chambo Gonmei to discuss the directives, provision and scope of what can be done at district level be it enhancing availability and accessibility of sanitary pads, production of sanitary pads,installing disposal mechanisms and so on.
Today the Tamenglong District Mass Awareness Programme on Menstrual Hygiene Management was conducted in Taudai Fellowship Center, a branch fellowship of Dailong Baptist Church,Tamenglong District Headquarters for women and girls of the congregation. Reverend,P.R Athana, Pastor welcomed the initiative to raise awareness on such a taboo topic and extended full support to the program. A technical session on Menstrual Hygienic Management (MHM) was facilitated by Urmila Chanam, Founder/CEO, Breaking the Silence where the key messages were menstrual blood is not impure, menstruation is not a disease,its a normal phenomenon, girls and women need support to manage their menstruation hygienically education on menstruation and best hygiene practices is needed in schools.More than 100 persons including girls and women of Tamenglong town attended the valuable awareness program which also had a high interaction with the participants.The host fellowship lauded the campaign team for their valuable services .Ms.Silvia Rimai(Asistant) of Ukhrul District and Mr.Agui Kamei(Coordinator of Tamenglong and Noney Districts) led interaction during the program and spoke about the need for citizen movement in development and health not just relying on the government for everything.Sanitary pads were distributed free of cost to the participants and pamphlets carrying the ABC of menstrual hygiene were distributed. Tomorrow the team will go for field work to assess Water, Sanitation and Hygiene indicators with an aim to understand the Menstrual Hygiene needs of girls and women in the district.
14 May 2018, Tamenglong district, Manipur( India)
A training was conducted for adolescent girls stydying in class 8 to 10 at the Tamenglong Higher Secondary School situated in Apollo Bazar in Tamenglong as part of the District Mass Awareness Program on Menstrual Hygiene Management today 14 May 2018.This is the second mass awareness program conducted in Tamenglong district by Breaking the Silence Campaign. Yesterday the training was held for mothers and women in the Taudai Fellowship Center, a branch fellowship of Dailong Baptist Church,Tamenglong District Headquarters.
The school Principal, Shri K.C Huduan shared how much this kind of sensitization was needed for school girls in this part of the state. Breaking the Silence Campaign donated sanitary pads to the school for use by school students in emergency. This school is a government school with 416 students and 276 girls. The school has 4 toilets for girls and 4 toilets for boys which is a good infrastructure to meet the sanitation and hygiene needs of students.Due to lack of government water supply it compensates by rain water harvesting. The school teachers shared that often menstruating girls request for leave due to some inconvenience or want to rest at home and spoke of some of the emergencies experienced by students during school time. Almost all the girls said they use sanitary pads.
It is interesting to note that the Science book of class 10 under the Manipur State Board does not explain reproduction well and fails to introduce menstruation or even body changes that take place in the body of girls in their adolescence. Without education on menstruation, reproductive system of women( and men), sexual health and menstrual hygiene are not possible in Manipur.In class 8 Science book there is a brief on reproduction but no practical knowledge on menstruation.
The campaign also made efforts to understand the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene situation with an objective to identify the needs of girls and women and visited Dailong village situated at 11 km from Tamenglong District Headquarters.This particular village has some kind of water supply infrastructure constructed by the Government of Manipur, Public Health Engineering Department but it still awaits completion.The plant has no provision for treating the water and water distribution has been completed only till the village but not till each household.
The unique quality of water source here in Tamenglong is the ability to flow down from the hill, move parallel on the ground and then rise up again without the use of power. The district has immense potential for hydel project. A Hydel project failed in the past in this village due to poor planning and incorrect design. The team visited the Hydel project. The turbines are big but the supporting water reservoir is small in comparison and not sufficient the Chairman of the Village Authority explains. Hydel projects should be tried again with improved vision, design and engineering as Tamenglong suffers from power cuts that last for days crippling its economy.
Women do not have easy access to health facilities and certainly not to sanitary napkins as no medical stores are there up in the hills where villages are located. All stores are situated in district headquarter in Tamenglong.To add to this there is no public transportation to ferry women to town. Government of Manipur has not given any transportation facility to this remote hill district. A private jeep goes by two times in a day only. Old women as old as 80 years walk 11 to 15 kms to the market to buy essentials and medicines.
Breaking the Silence 2018 Manipur Campaign has been on the road since 9th May 2018 travelling from Imphal to Noney to Tamenglong to spread awareness on the biology and real essence of menstruation and hygiene and understand the barriers to achieve this in terms of water supply, sanitation and hygiene. On 15th May the campaign will move beyond Tamenglong and focus on the last district in its outreach for this year- Ukhrul.
15 May 20178, Tamenglong district, Manipur(India)
Conducted a training on eco-friendly bio-degradable sanitary napkins, production, types, leading manufacturers and benefits for the members of Rain Forest Club Tamenglong, a voluntary organization working on conserving nature and wild life in the district. The youth are interested in setting up a small scale industry in Tamenglong and manufacturer banana fibres sanitary pads as banana, corn and pineapple are abundant in the hill district.
Urmila Chanam, Silvia Rimai, Agui Kamei,Ajuanah Kamei,D.Pouhoi,Thanriangliu Gangmei,Philip Kamei,Ringbamliu Riamei formed the Breaking the Silence team.
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Visit our website at http://breakingthesilencereddroplets.com/