Since the start of this Rotary year, we have distributed 520 reusable sanitary pads and 300 alert whistles among young girls and women around Mumbai,” says Dr Aayushi Kacheria, president, RAC Bombay Hanging Gardens, RID 3141.
The club began their menstrual hygiene programme since 2019, and it has grown to be an impactful project among the underprivileged girls and women in the slums and tribal areas around the city. “We have distributed at least 2,500 napkins so far. We have scaled up the project now with a target is to distribute 1,000 pads every year,” she says.
On an average the project costs ₹2.5 lakh annually. The funds are raised by the members through donations from their known circles. “Initially some of the Rotaractors used to bake cookies, cakes, bread and cupcakes, and the proceeds from the sale would be contributed into the kitty for the project. Post-Covid we have stopped doing that.”
Aayushi, a general practitioner and pursuing post-graduation in medicine, trains volunteers to educate young girls and women about menstrual hygiene, follow good menstrual health and to avail the benefits of using reusable sanitary napkins. “We make sure that the girls/women do not feel uncomfortable in any way. We also invite the boys to the lectures. Our aim is to break the taboo surrounding menstruation, and make it all more inclusive so that men become more sensitive to women’s health,” says the club president.
This year, along with the reusable sanitary pads, the Rotaractors distributed alert whistles provided to them by the parent club, RC Bombay Hanging Gardens. The electronic device has a button which, when pressed down, gives out a shrill whistle to alert people in the neighbourhood. “This is particularly useful for working women who travel in deserted places and women in the villages where they visit the fields at night to attend nature’s call,” she explains.
The club has been organising health camps in association with its parent club, RC Bombay Hanging Gardens, and its Interact clubs, since 2015. This year, on Christmas-eve, the team set up a camp near the Nepean Sea Road in Mumbai. Doctors provided counselling for various illnesses, and medicines were distributed to the patients. Eye and dental check-up, blood pressure and diabetes tests were also part of the health camp. Spectacles, sponsored by the parent Rotary club, were given to patients with eyesight disorder. Over 250 people benefitted from the camp during the day. During Covid, the clubs together staged a mega vaccination camp in Mumbai.
On World Kindness Day (Nov 13), the club members distributed notes of kindness to 100 strangers at the Marine Drive. “Each note had a special message of hope and words of kindness and gratitude, aimed to brighten up the day for the recipients. We asked them to pass on the note to someone they meet, so as to make happiness and hope a chain reaction,” she says.