14-yr-old Gowri's empowering journey: From a Spectator to a Changemaker!
ICO: Hi Gowri, how are you? We are excited to hear from you about your changemaker journey.
Gowri: Thanks for having me. I am looking forward to this conversation and sharing whatever I have learned during my ICO journey.
Great, so my first question. What motivated you to take part in ICO?
While interacting with my house-help’s daughter, I realised that a lot of young girls did not have proper education about menstrual hygiene and know the science behind what’s happening in their bodies, which affects their health as well as their studies.
This was the moment we thought it would be great if we could help them with this knowledge, and that was our main motivation to participate in ICO.
Okay. You said “We”. Who is this “We” you are referring to?
So we were a team of 4 members. 3 of us were girls and later we were joined by a boy, which made sense because even boys also need to know about this problem. Initially, the boy was a bit hesitant to join the team but when we made him realize the impact of it and the good it would do, he was more than happy to join in.
So how did you guys go about your initiative?
Firstly, to understand the problem first-hand, we visited a local government school in our community and conducted a session with 15-16 girls from the school. This was an introductory session to make the girls comfortable so that they could openly talk to us about this topic. From this session, we realized that they not only needed education on this subject, but also needed a menstrual toolkit consisting of things like a calendar (to track their cycles) and hot water bags (to reduce pain during cramps).
So we decided to do that. The estimated cost of assembling these “kits” was around Rs. 9,000 and we fundraised this amount from our neighbours in our locality. Once we were ready, and went back to the school to conduct a detailed workshop. This time we showed them an animated video to teach them the science behind their periods and gave a presentation demonstrating how to use the complete menstrual toolkit. Finally, we distributed the menstrual toolkits to all the girls.
Great. So what was the reach of your initiative?
Till now, we have covered two schools. In the first school we distributed around 20-25 kits and in the second school we were able to distribute 70-75 kits. In total, we reached around 100 girls. We are planning to expand in the future so that we can reach to as many girls as possible.
Yes! You guys should definitely reach out to more and more girls. Anyway, what were the challenges faced by you while working on the initiative?
At first, getting the contacts of the government schools and asking them to organize a session was difficult but with the help of some people in the neighborhood associated with the schools, we managed to get the contacts. Fundraising was also a long task. Maybe we could have optimized it better. And also interacting with the girls in Kannada was also one of the major challenges as we are not very fluent in it, but through posters and videos, we were able to explain them.
So what was your key learning from this initiative?
It was a great learning experience for me. This was my first personal visit to a government school and I got to meet with children of our age from different backgrounds. It was an emotional yet empowering experience for me, making me more socially responsible. Also, it helped me improve my adaptability skills. We had to interact in Kannada without knowing it properly, that too with people from different backgrounds, so it was a good experience in adaptability for us.
That’s great to hear. So what did you love the most while working on the initiative?
The best part was when we were able to bring a smile on these girls’ faces. It was surprising to see that we actually developed a very close bond with these girls in a short amount of time. When we were leaving, they actually came and hugged us. It was a very nice feeling to know that we were able to help them as well as have fun with them. To me, it was the most enjoyable part of the initiative.
Sense of giving back is indeed a great feeling. Do you think such a changemaker attitude at a young age will help you in the future ?
Yeah definitely! This made me a very humble and understanding person. And now I feel very lucky about what I have and how I can help others. This changemaking experience will definitely help me in the future.
Last question. What is the role you think adults have to play in helping children become Changemakers?
I think it’s really important for adults to trust in the abilities of young people to create a big difference in the world! Honestly, not a lot of adults offer this support to young people. But like how ICO trusted us and gave this opportunity to us, all adults like parents and teachers should be offering the same to children like us to help us become Changemakers!
Well that’s lovely to hear. Thanks for sharing your story and helping us understand a young changemaker’s perspective.
Thank you very much, and glad to be a part of this.