Teenager Sindhura Devalaraja is on a mission to provide sanitary napkins for all.

Meet 17-year-old Sindhura Devalaraja, who dreams of a future in India where menstruation is not a taboo subject and where all the young girls have access to sanitary napkins. This youngster who lives with her parents in Boston, USA is currently in Hyderabad and talks about the experience in Tirupati that changed her life. “We went to an institute that housed persons with disabilities. After visiting regularly, I realised that for one week, I would not see some girls and later found out that they were menstruating. The girls didn’t have access to sanitary napkins so would keep husk in between their clothes and would sit in the bathroom area for the week, so that everything could be just washed off. I was shocked to see the unhygienic and unsanitary condition of these girls,” she recalls. With her pocket money, sheSindhura used her yearly visits to Hyderabad during summer as an opportunity to volunteer at five homes in and around Hyderabad including the Centre for Social Service. “Most of the girls would not go to school while menstruating because their school had no bathroom. They disrespect themselves and as they miss school frequently, they end up giving up on education,” she says.

Seeing her enthusiasm, her aunt joined in the endeavour. “My aunt, who runs a company that provides corporate lunch, joined my mission,” she says. The word spread among friends and family and the contributions helped in funding for sanitary napkins for 500 girls at these homes.

Pointing out the challenges, Sindhura says, “People think youngsters are not serious in their endeavours of doing good for society. Young people are free, independent and have no strings attached, so they are able to devote time to their mission.”

Sindhura plans to launch a website by mid-August through which more and more people can contribute. “Orphanages have tight budgets and sanitary napkins are generally at the end in their list of things-to-buy,” she points out and talks about the stigma surrounding menstruation in India. “It is a challenge as more awareness on menstrual hygiene is needed. There is a lot of stigma in the society as in some families girls cannot touch others when they are menstruating or go a temple. Women should be treated with respected as this is a natural process.” bought them sanitary napkins.

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