Rotaractors from RAC Bhubaneswar Capital, RID 3262, have been visiting Saraswati Chuggi, an underprivileged colony in the city, and raising awareness about sanitation and hygiene among the residents there for the last four years. “When they first started, the Rotaractors understood that the women in the region were not used to using sanitary napkins, neither did the children know what a handwash meant,” says DRR Prajakta Devroy.
The 25 members of the club organised themselves into groups and visited the locality to educate the people about cleanliness and sensitise them on the ill-effects of open defaecation and usage of rags and newspapers during menstruation. The Rotaractors educated the women on menstrual hygiene and use of sanitary napkins, and talked to the children about the importance of handwash.
They taught the adults to read and write too. “Most of them have now learnt to sign their names. This has even inspired them to send their children to school,” says Devroy.
The club distributes free sanitary napkins every month to the women in the colony. “We want to provide them biodegradable pads which are eco-friendly. But they are expensive and right now we are using the club’s funds. Some of us use the stipend we get from our internship programme to buy the pads. We hope to partner with other NGOs soon,” says Nimish Aggarwal, the club’s vice president.
She recalls that when they started this initiative two years ago, “no woman was willing to talk to us. Now they know us so well that they are comfortable letting their children play with us and openly discuss sanitation issues they are facing.” The Rotaractors have provided dustbins in the colony at the request of these women.
Devroy says, “This is a life-changing project by the club. Rotaractors have set an example by conducting this cleanliness drive as part of their responsibility and contribution to society.”