Nawanshahr: A rural NGO, with the active support from NRIs, has taken the initiative to provide sanitary napkins in 11 government schools in villages of Balachaur sub-division of Nawansnhahr district and also to create awareness among girl students in the schools about using these and hygiene. Most of these schools are in Kandi area, which is considered backward in terms of economic growth and infrastructure. While in six schools, the NGO has provided lockers for storing the sanitary napkins, going a step further it has given a dispenser and an incinerator each in the other five schools. The initiative has been funded by Canada-based NRIs. Khawahish Sewa Society (KHASS), based in Takarla village, has started the concept of 'Menstrual Friendly Schools' in Balachaur under 'Healthy Girls Healthy Future' programme. The project has been funded by Rotary Club of Grande Prairie in Alberta province of Canada and the NRIs based there.Five dispensers have been installed in five government senior secondary schools of Balachaur from where students can purchase a napkin for Rs 2. In seven schools (all senior secondary and high schools), napkin disposal incinerators have also been provided for proper disposal. In four middle schools and two high schools, lockers have been provided to the girls and they are provided with six sanitary pads every month.
Earlier girls would miss school during periods or would even seek leave when in school but now they have a sense of security and comfort with this facility available in the school that too when these are available at a very low price," said Reema, a teacher of government senior secondary school, Balachaur who also heads endeavour within the school. "We focus on breaking the taboos and to create safe spaces for the girls to eradicate the fear associated with this natural phenomena" said Giandeep Khepar, hailing from Takarla, who is settled in Grande Prairie, Alberta. "The NGO is run by the villagers and they manage all local affairs while we raise funds in Canada for them," said Khepar, who is a Rotarian and vice-president of Hindu Society of the Peace Region, Alberta, which facilitates the funding. "We wanted to take up a non-conventional project as the issue of hygiene of girls goes a long way for their health," he added. "We first started the project from village Takarla in November 13 and then after running it there for sometime started spreading to other rural schools," he said.