Developing World v. Developing Girls

Narmade Har!” ༺🔥༻ नर्मदे हर

– our Sacred Rivers are connected.

MC means Moon Cycle

Be a Moon Mother !
Imagine a world where a girl can not even attend school because of lack of menstrual care to manage her Moon Cycle. Amma at SwAr Ashram is Mother of our girl student’s Moon Cycles. LEARN HOW you can get involved – be a Moon Mother, too.

Imagine if you are a woman reading this, (maybe the men can imagine too) what would it be like if you never had access to menstrual products from the time you were a schoolgirl and even now. What would you do during your MC? “I’m on the rag” is not just some random meaning.Schoolgirls in India have been conditioned since the beginning of time to just stay home. Use an old rag. There is so much shame attached to this, the oldest dirtiest rag in the house, not a new, clean sanitary rag.

I was already living in India a few years (menopausal) before figuring this out. It wasnt until i started a formal English Class for our NGO in 2012 that I noticed we rarely get girls to sign up even though its FREE and intended to attract girls whose parents don’t want to invest one rupee in their girl’s education. A few girls enrolled. Then I noticed they miss classes half of each month. I started asking questions.

Girls miss 5-7 days a month because of their MC time. Then because they are not allowed to walk alone, they miss another week for their friend’s MC who they walk with. Unless they are lucky enough to have a brother to walk with.

This information really upset me. How could i not know this after 5 or so years in India? All the desi women friends i had made never mention this. (Desi means local, traditional, old school India). Being menopausal, i suppose i was just so free from thinking of these matters at all, if a clue was there i must have missed it.

Immediately, I set out on a mission. I developed a test pad, made a few and asked a few girls to try it. A facebook follower got her high school gender equality group involved and donated a couple of hundred cut out pieces of cotton batting i was not able to get here and some samples made with PUL material i was not able to get here.

After testing those pads made with all organics against the ones i made with locally available polyfleece commonly known as MC cloth here – the local girls were all in favor of the local materials for a couple of reasons. 1. they wash out in cold water very easily by hand. We have no washing machines in town and rarely do the girls i teach have access to hot water at home. 2. they dry quickly. we do not have dryers either. They are also too ashamed to hang them out on the line. But this material will dry easily in the house.

Turns out that this man-made fiber is much more anti-microbial than cotton (whether organic or not) and if cotton is washed in cold water by hand, stains show, germs are not killed and it takes forever to dry especially in the house and without at least the heat of the sun to dry it, many germs remain. So the organic cotton was out of the question as well as the local umbrella maker cloth i used instead of PUL was 90% cheaper than importing PUL and it works just as good as a barrier layer. So i set out purchasing all the last year’s fashion, cheap cotton dress fabrics i could find in town and made a trip to the city to buy large quantities of MC cloth. Next was to order more snaps from amazon. i had already got the tool and a small quantity of snaps.

My intention was always to make sets on the Tom’s Shoes model. But organic materials are demanded in the West for these pads and i was still struggling to find any sources without the cost of importing them. The little bit of organic cotton grown in our area is all for export. not sold locally or manufactured into anything like batting. Its all for dress cloth. I got some batting donated for a test batch using local Desi Hand Block Printed organic cottons and bamboo microfiber for possible resale. I am still working on how to consistently source these things and to also get the proper testing that will be required to export this type of item.

Meanwhile, i just focus on my Desi Girls and how to fund it ASAP now. Since our next Yoga Retreat was near, we put that income towards more pads. It soon became our number one need for income, to produce pads. All the money i could earn by teaching modules like Agnihotra online went to this project.

The MC Satsang (as i like to call it) along with Book & Amma’s cloth pad set distribution (cute little prints with snaps and a carry bag for school use) is delivered to the girls in a day-long Yoga Camp program that includes traditional Arts & Crafts and nutritious meals as well.

It is a man’s world in India. in most places, women are not allowed to own property or a business. They never get to choose who they marry though if its a nice family they give the girl veto power or to choose between 2 or 3 candidates. There is no such thing as dating. Girls are never outside alone. Girls go to the free college provided by gov or to our free English classes, because it helps them bargain for a better husband. If they are totally uneducated, they will have to marry an uneducated boy.

Then a man from Kerala started selling a machine he made to NGOs, so that they could make cheap paper pads to donate to villages. (brand names are very costly and none of the girls in rural areas and few in cities can afford such a luxury.) This project got gov attention and gov backing. They even made a movie about it with a top Bollywood star. Of all the places they could have filmed the story of the man from Kerala, they close to do it right here in Maheshvar! 1000 miles from and a completely different environment from Kerala.

It seems awesome on the surface. But when you consider the carcinogens in white bleached paper products for fem hygiene, and the fact that when these products start to be widely distributed in developing countries, feminine cancers begin to pop up where they never existed before. From 0 to 5% the cancers rise to 20- to even 35% after paper pads are introduced. India has no public waste removal or any facilities except in very large metro areas.

Now paper pads are widely available, but before that took off, my girls were already educated on the dangers of paper fem products. And since the movie, the taboo has been slightly softened at least among girls to discuss with each other.

The distribution of my pads is done with a full educational program that includes a wonderful comic book made by another NGO for teaching girls about their MC. After all, we are an education-based initiative and in this way, the program is educational as well as it empowers girls to stay in school. up to 70% would drop out by age 14 because of MC issues falling behind and not being able to catch up, getting de-motivated and feeling stupid, succumb to early marriage at 15. Now it is gov mandated to not marry til 18. Girls are given free college with incentives like a mobile phone free if they stay in 2 years to get a Certificate.

There is no sex-ed in India. Even the mothers of the girls know too little to give a proper education, since all their lives this is shrouded in shame and many of the mothers of my girl students never completed more than the 3rd grade Meaning by 4th grade when they got their first MC, bye bye school. Fact is, because of arranged caste marriage traditions, girls are often feotocided or even killed after birth. As if that isn’t horrific enough, the woman gets blamed for producing a girl child. Education about x/y chromosomes being part of the male contribution to the creation of a baby is an empowering fact to give these girls and their mothers, sisters, aunts, etc.

I also give them the perspective of pride in their MC meaning they are growing into women who will be able to grow human life inside their bodies. How miraculous is that! This is your super-power girls! Be modest but – Don’t be ashamed of it.

If they speak a little English and can use a computer, they may be very useful in the boy’s family business staying at home and working online or with the emails of possible clients. This way between having babies and serving her Mother-in-law as a cooking and cleaning slave, she can help the family grow the business outside of local parameters.

People cue up in male/female lines at any public place though 95% are male so its a great thing to be female in the post office or ATM cue, you get fast service. Women rarely are the ones buying the food, they give the job to any boy in the family so that the woman isnt even handling any money of her own or making choices what to cook.

In fact girls are told to never practice Yoga, its a boys only thing. Because of MC time, the males – Gurus – who teach do not accept girl students. I am under suspicion all the time for teaching Girls Yoga. Because i am a woman, and a foreigner, i am forbidden to teach boys.

Did you have any idea that life is so hard for the Indian girl child?

While proper menstrual care is the birthright of all girls everywhere, Yoga in particular is an Indian Girl’s birthright. Without the support of the global Yoga community, this right has been diminished. With our support, their access to what the current patriarchal society deems as male-only, is becoming more accepted. We are told that Shiva is Adi-Yogi, the Veda-s & Purana-s tell us that Parvati co-created everything with him. Is it any wonder that women & girls are discouraged from studying these?

It’s not enough to teach the girls this. I also teach the boys that they will not have a fully developed country with half of its citizens – females – uneducated & weak. The rest of the developed world has a strong female presence. If they want to be on that economic par as a nation, they have to lift up their sisters. The gov already supports this in many ways. It’s the patriarchal society that resists it. SwAr Ashram functioning through NIWS is here to support the developing culture in a rural area where there are no female role models in the previous generation as there are in the cities and more affluent areas.

If you are a Yoga Teacher, earning money or in some way your life is being enriched from Yoga – India’s national treasure – i urge you to contribute in some way to give something back to Mother India. I hope you will consider doing that through this website. 100% of the money earned here goes to helping our girls stay in school with mentoring, proper menstrual care and health & hygiene lessons, access to healthy living through Yoga & special cases College Tuition support. We provide English classes, Library & computer / wifi access for both boys and girls.

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            नर्मदे हर   NARMADE HAR! ༺🔥༻

Love and abundance of gratitude by the Grace of Maa Narmada & Devi Ahilyabai

༺🔥༻

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Love and abundance of gratitude by the Grace of Maa Narmada & Devi Ahilyabai

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नर्मदे हर NARMADE HAR! – is a regional greeting in and around the Narmada River villages & towns among locals, parikramavasi-s and tourists. When we say this, we recognize the Divinity of Narmada in you.

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